CHARLES

It's like God answered
a prayer

Before coming to London, Charles was settled in Norfolk with his own flat, having reconnected with his mum after growing up in care. Work was hard to come by, and Charles took pity on a friend in need. “I thought, ‘I’ll be charitable and let him stay with me.’ I didn’t charge him no rent.” Although all started well, things quickly turned sour and eviction loomed. For his own safety, Charles decided to move away and travelled to London with enough money for four nights in a hostel and some food.

A providential meeting 

Sat in a café on the third day, a lady lent Charles a phone charger and pointed him in the direction of Crisis Skylight. That turned out to be a providential meeting! During his 10-night stay on the streets, Charles registered with Crisis Skylight and awaited the street outreach team, without success. At times, it was “bitterly cold” and Charles started to feel depressed with his circumstances. Fortunately, Crisis then managed to secure a place for Charles in the GrowTH night shelter in February 2019. GrowTH was not what Charles expected. “It really did surprise me!” he admitted. “The staff were so friendly. They took a genuine interest in your situation. They did actually make you feel welcome. You wanted to go back there.”

Answered prayer and new home 

Charles stayed at GrowTH for 23 nights before securing a room in local accommodation. “The hostel I am in now is perfect, I am so happy there. I walked past it one day on the way to one of the shelters and I used to think, ‘That would be a nice place to live in’. Then one day, my luck changed and I actually did get that hostel. It’s like God answered a prayer. He knew that I had my eye on something like that.” 

Friendships that Charles enjoys now began in the shelter. “You built up like a family rapport. You’d look out and care for one another. Miguel, Ahmed, Mohammed, we all became strong, good friends. Now we spend a lot of time together.” 

Counting the days 

Charles was grateful to hear the message of Jesus shared in the shelter. He explains, “The night shelters are run by a lot of Christian people. They don’t force the gospel on you … but they were really happy and willing to sit down and read it with you if you wished … I think that helps a lot of people. It helps a lot of people find God and return to church.” Previously a member of a Mormon church, he is now enjoying fellowship at East End Church. “The first time I walked into the church I felt a little out of place and uncomfortable because I was so used to going into church in a suit and tie … but the church started their service and the singing started … I found I really enjoyed it. I felt at home. I felt at peace being there. I found myself counting the days during the week. ‘When’s it Sunday, how many days ‘til Sunday? I want to go back to church!’ It’s an open family, they 18 are not just there to do their own thing, everyone cares about each other.”

On the right path 

Employment is important to Charles. He has completed a 12-week barista course with Crisis Skylight and has also enjoyed ad-hoc work with RenewEL, a social enterprise that offers work to those on the margins. He hopes to secure full-time employment and dreams of his first holiday abroad. “I have never left the country! I want to go somewhere with a sandy beach, swim with dolphins.” Charles is full of gratitude and hope for the future. He concludes, “I just really, really want to thank GrowTH night shelters. From giving me a roof over my head, to guiding me; leading me to the right path that I should be on, rather than just leaving me to wander like a lost sheep.”