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Church Housing Trust

Julia Bradbury presents an appeal on behalf of Church Housing Trust, a charity providing support to Britain's homeless people.


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Not long ago, these North London streets became my world.

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I was trying to experience homelessness for a documentary.

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Here we are.

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So, this was my spot.

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Now, I only slept rough for a week and I'm not pretending that

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I know what it's like to be homeless after such a short period of time.

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But it was the hardest thing, that I think I've ever done.

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After just a couple of nights of not sleeping properly,

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not eating properly and begging for money,

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I began to understand how hard life on the streets really is.

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You become physically and emotionally drained

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very, very quickly.

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You become grubby and you become invisible.

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After my brief experience, I decided I needed to get involved

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and learn more about homelessness.

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There's a charity that's funding exactly the kind of help that

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homeless people need to rebuild their lives.

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It's called Church Housing Trust.

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The charity's roots stretch back more than 100 years, offering

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shelter, food and work to homeless people from any faith or background.

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Homelessness can happen to anyone.

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Sometimes, it's not the people you'd expect.

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This is Richard.

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I'd led a pretty good life. I did some good jobs.

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I lived in a nice apartment.

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For the previous eight years, I'd actually been a full-time home dad.

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But then, Richard's marriage broke down

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and he found himself on the streets.

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When you come from quite a good standard of living, it can be

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quite traumatic.

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The big difference is, of course, there's no privacy,

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there's no safety or anything like that.

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You think, "Am I going to get moved? Am I going to get arrested?

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"Is someone going to attack me?"

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The most difficult bit, I think, was separation from my children.

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That was...

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Yeah.

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Absolutely devastating.

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Homelessness is a huge problem.

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All over the country, people are sleeping rough.

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And there are thousands more in temporary accommodation, too.

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Up until his mid-20s, Dave was serving in the army

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and owned a flat.

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But he struggled to cope with traumatic memories

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of his childhood spent in care.

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I left the army due to depression, you know,

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stuff coming back to haunt you sometimes.

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After he quit the army, Dave worked as a scaffolder,

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but soon he started using drugs and he ended up sleeping rough

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and in hostels for nearly eight years.

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Back then, it was a mixture of three things. It was hostels,

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sleeping rough and prison. But looking back on it just scares me.

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You know, the dangers it involves, you know,

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the risks you're putting yourself.

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The time when I was homeless, you know, it was quite violent.

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I look back now and I think, "My God, why did I do that for so long?'

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Dave finally decided to break the cycle and go into rehab.

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Now, he lives in a rented flat

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and he is closely involved with Church Housing Trust's work,

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helping people who are still homeless.

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The charity provides the basics for homeless people

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arriving at a hostel,

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when a towel and a toothbrush might be the first steps towards

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feeling normal again.

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What do you think about adding cheese to the breakfasts?

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-For sure.

-Yeah?

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Dave helped set up a breakfast club at a hostel in Westminster.

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Church Housing Trust funds several clubs like this in other hostels

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across the country.

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The breakfast club is a stepping stone to get the lads

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involved to do more and more things for themselves.

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You see them down here, cooking meals for people.

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It's building up confidence in them.

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They're building up skills. You know, it's about empowering people.

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Homelessness can very quickly become a way of life.

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I met people sleeping rough were desperate to

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get off the streets and get a roof over their heads,

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but others who were very distrustful of any help that was on offer.

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Church Housing Trust knows that tackling homelessness

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long-term is about building relationships and self-confidence.

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And that's why the charity is funding an innovative project

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called Street Buddies.

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Street Buddies are former homeless people who now volunteer.

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They go out in pairs, on shifts, to find rough sleepers

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and show them how they can get help.

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Richard has pieced his life back together

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and, for now, he's found somewhere to live.

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He sees his children more often

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and he's passing on some of what he's learnt through

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the Street Buddies project.

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Dave has recently become a Street Buddy, too.

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Hi, Dave.

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-How you doing, mate?

-Cool. We've got a new one just around the corner.

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What sort of approach do you take with people?

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How do you go up to them?

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It's softly, softly.

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-We take our time to approach people.

-And you build people's trust?

-Yeah.

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Cups of coffee, have a little chat.

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Building up that relationship with people, you know,

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regular appearances. When we say we're going to come back next week,

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we do come back next week.

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How rewarding is it for you when you get someone off the streets?

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It's massive. There's nothing more of a warm feeling for me.

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The Street Buddy Scheme is run day-to-day by an organisation

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called Riverside Care and Support.

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Coordinator Lou believes the buddies provide a unique service.

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-So you went out yesterday morning?

-Yeah.

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'You can't teach what Dave and the other Street Buddies have.'

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Having lived experience of having been homeless,

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but also trying to rebuild your lives. Unless you've

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been through that journey, you won't understand it completely.

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So they have something different to offer as a service

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and it's invaluable.

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Street Buddies enables some of us

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who have been homeless to put something back.

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Without the support of the Church Housing Trust, we couldn't do that.

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Think about what holds your live together -

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family, friends, work.

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Now, what would you do if you lost all of those things?

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How would you cope? Where would you turn?

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Imagine how much the projects supported by Church Housing Trust

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would mean to you, if you were trying to get back on your feet.

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Street buddies can go on to become paid trainees, like Trisha,

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helping the homeless.

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I was a teenager living at home. Me and my mum argued a lot.

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And that's how I ended up... I ended up leaving home.

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She was homeless for ten years and became addicted to heroin.

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As I got older, I started to realise that I wanted a life.

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I was sick of moving from place to place,

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from hostel to hostel, back on the streets.

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I wanted to get married, have kids, have a job.

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Be normal.

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Since she's had training, funded by Church Housing Trust,

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Tricia's been working in a hostel

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for people with mental health issues.

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Being a trainee has made me more confident with myself

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that I can actually go out and get a job.

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My family are well pleased for me.

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I felt that I'd let them down, in my past, I put shame on them.

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Now they can be proud of me and say, "That's my daughter".

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Tonight, people who have nowhere to call home will be looking for places

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to bed down on the streets of Britain's towns and cities.

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But, there's so much we can do to look after homeless people

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and help them find a way out of dangerous and desperate situations.

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You can make a difference now

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by supporting Church Housing Trust, to run their range of projects.

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£10 buys food, clothes and toiletries for anybody

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turning up a hostel with nothing. £20 covers a Street Buddy's shift.

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So, please, donate now, if you can, to Church Housing Trust

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and help homeless people rebuild their lives.

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To donate, please go to the website, bbc.co.uk/lifeline

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To give by phone, call 0800 011 011.

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Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

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You can also donate £10, by texting DONATE to 70121.

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Texts cost £10, plus your standard network message charge

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and the whole £10 goes to Church Housing Trust.

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Full terms and conditions can be found at bbc.co.uk/lifeline

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Or if you would like to post a donation,

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please make your cheque payable to Church Housing Trust

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and send it to FREEPOST, BBC LIFELINE APPEAL.

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Please write Church Housing Trust on the back of the envelope.

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If you want the charity to claim gift aid on your donation,

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please include an e-mail or postal address,

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so they can send you a gift aid form.

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Thank you.

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Julia Bradbury presents an appeal on behalf of Church Housing Trust, a charity providing support to Britain's homeless people. She finds out how the charity offers emergency help like food and clothing for rough sleepers, as well as long-term support like work placements for homeless people trying to rebuild their lives.

Julia knows how dangerous, chaotic and lonely life on the streets can be, as she recently spent a week living as a homeless person for a TV reality show. She meets ex-soldier Dave who left the army because of depression and was homeless for several years. He now helps to run a breakfast club at a hostel in Westminster and also volunteers for the Street Buddy project funded by Church Housing Trust. Street Buddies are men and women who have lived on the streets themselves, so they can build up relationships with rough sleepers who are often distrustful of any help on offer. Support from a Street Buddy helps homeless people take the first steps back to safer and more stable lives.