For the last 3 months Spider has been practising what it’s been preaching, which is the need for companies who were randomly blessed with businesses able to survive and thrive in the time of Covid, to do something to ‘give back’ to those not so lucky. We decided to use our talent and skills to assist Glass Door, the homeless charity based in London which offers shelter and support to homeless men and women, by helping them with press relations and social media as well funding their social advertising spend to maximise reach.
Never has the charity needed money more than this year with the expected increase in numbers of people requiring shelter because of loss of jobs and homes. The big annual fundraiser for the charity is the ‘Sleep Out’ on Duke of York Square off the Kings Road. Dozens of people get sponsored to sleep rough on the pavement. Having done it in the past, it is an amazing and salutary experience. However, this year with 2 weeks to go, the event had to be cancelled in line with Government restrictions.
Instead people were encouraged to ‘sleep out’ anywhere they could. The team at Spider opted for the bare boards at The Spider House. I had decided to up the ante a little and that required me to ‘sleep out’ nearer home! Consequently, Friday night at 9pm in a fierce rainstorm, saw me and Annie – ‘Orphan Annie’, a real homeless dog from a Greek island – walk into the porch of St Luke’s Church. At least it was dry, but my sleeping bag and yoga mat did little to mitigate the hardness of the flagstones. Very little sleep was achieved.
However, the real challenge came the next day. We left at 6am, still raining with hood up, rucksack on back, bedroll under arm, cushion in carrier bag and bedraggled dog on lead – a genuine bag lady on the street. After a quick shower at home, breakfast for Annie and coffee for me, we set off at 7am to walk the marathon distance of 26 miles.
For the first five hours the rain was relentless, my socks and trainers were wet through within 15 minutes. We walked from Sloane Square to Richmond and back along the banks of the Thames. It took 9.5 hours of steady walking plus a couple of breaks for food along the way.
Annie was quite magnificent. We had a terrific and unforgettable adventure doing both the ‘Sleep Out’ and the marathon and combined with Spider we raised over £10.5k. At the end of the long day the joy of my hot bath, a good meal and a warm bed simply reminded me more acutely how lucky we are and why the cause is so important.
A shocking fact I only discovered on the Friday evening in conversation with the amazing Patrick Luong from Glass Door, is that even though the shelters are open, because of restrictions it is not possible to offer the usual shower facilities. Imagine not being able to wash – and here we are in the 21st century.