They say you’re only ever two pay packets away from being on the streets yourself.
As temperatures plummet, we all can’t wait to get home at the end of a long day to turn up the heating, prepare a warming bowl of comfort food, snuggle up on the sofa with a hot chocolate or relax in a steamy, hot bath before cosying up in our comfortable beds for the night. But for some this couldn’t be further from the truth as for those unfortunate to be living on the streets, a long, freezing and lonely night awaits; tonight and every night for the coming months. Freezing temperatures cause immune systems to drop and blood pressures to rise increasing the risk of a heart attack, stroke, hypothermia and frost bite to face, hands and feet. Incomprehensible news that is both heart-breaking and gut-wrenching. But a lesson someone once taught us is to always look for the heroes, they’re always out there.
We sat down with Michelle Langan, the founder of The Papercup Project – a volunteer led group of people who week in and week out take to the streets armed with baskets of food to offer a meal and a listening ear.
Hey Michelle! We know lots about you but for those who don’t, tell us all about The Papercup project
I started up The Papercup Project about 18 months ago. It came out of me doing some writing workshops with a group of the homeless, and when the workshops ended I wanted to do more.
Why did you want to start it?
Hearing the stories of how quickly these people who were just like you or I had ended up on the streets, made me want to help, and to challenge the stigmas that these people are beggars or drug addicts.
How do you help?
Every week we go out and feed, clothe, offer support and advice to the homeless in town. Some of our volunteers work in social housing, and have been able to help around 20 rough sleepers into homes. We have a great team of volunteers, and get help from restaurants and cafes in town as well as Fareshare.
A really important part of The Papercup Project is to challenge people’s perceptions of the homeless. One of our regulars is a man in his sixties who worked in publishing and was made redundant. We often see young men who have split with their girlfriends and found themselves with nowhere to stay, and young women who have left abusive relationships. We don’t help people to stay on the streets – we help them to stay alive.
How can anybody who is reading this right now help?
Anyone wanting to help can contact our Facebook page or find us on twitter @cooltobekindLpl or donate to our gofundme page at https://www.gofundme.com/Papercupproject