Looking back, the conversation of Invisible People visiting the UK started a little over three years ago when I first connected to Richard Burdett from the Pavement magazine. Richard and I connected over twitter when I started We Are Visible,and he was gracious enough to run some free ads. It was those ads that connected me to several homeless people on the streets of London. Much of my work today came from watching how @JimmMacPherson, @deadly_sirius, @aibaihe, and a few others interacted with each other and service providers over social media. Homeless people in the UK are much more connected. Probably the main reason for that is availability of low-cost mobile data.
For the past three years there has been talk about crossing over the pond to help our rough sleeping friends have a voice, but because of lack of funds it just never happen. Now, thanks to British Airways donating airfare, and my mother and step-sister making a large donation, and several donations from many wonderful people, I have spent an amazing week learning about UK homelessness spending most of my time out meeting rough sleepers.
A few days ago I travelled to Chippenham to meet Lisa from Doorway, a day centre a little over an hour outside of London by train. As luck would have it, Richard drove to meet both Lisa and myself. There really are no words to express the feeling of meeting someone in real life that has supported my work since the beginning. It was a really amazing day and I'll write more about it when I post Lisa's interview.
Okay, so all this time I thought The Pavement was a street paper for homeless to sell. It's not. In fact, it's even more awesome! Pavement is a free magazine distributed to homeless shelters and to homeless people. The Pavement is distributed in London, Scotland and the West Midlands. In London alone, they deliver 4,000+ copies of The Pavement to over 70 hostels, day centers, homeless agencies, soup-runs and libraries. It's an independent voice for homeless people and those of us working hard to get out friends off the streets, and that is BRILLIANT!
Of course, I had to interview Richard about how this all started and about homelessness in the UK from his perspective. Richard brings a unique perspective because he is so connected yet still very much independent. Please support The Pavement. It really is a gorgeous concept, but because it's for homeless people funds are greatly needed to support it's operations.Photo credit: Garry Knight