On the night of Saturday 29th of February along with 30 others I slept out in the open by Greyfriars Church in Reading. Fortunately, the night was starry but the temperature fell to 3 degrees Celsius with a keen wind and that is cold even under a large pile of bedding. Shouting, traffic noise and flashing lights did not help the process of trying to get some sleep.
On such nights, homeless people may be able to take advantage of Reading’s Bed for the Night scheme but not everyone has the opportunity or maybe the temperament to do so. Then they have to find somewhere to survive, possibly in a shop doorway. Some people may feel that to sleep out for one night only is a meaningless gesture but it does concentrate the mind and help us to remember why we support CIRDIC. Walking home at six o’clock in the morning it occurred to me what a great long, cold day lay ahead for the really homeless. I was cheered a bit by the thought that CIRDIC’s centre in Berkeley Avenue would be open serving breakfast to all who cross the door with no challenges and no questions asked as to their circumstances.
For thirty years CIRDIC (Churches in Reading Drop-in Centre) has been Reading’s first port of call for people who find themselves on the street. We serve main meals, baths, showers and provide art therapy. We point to where advice can be found on combatting addiction and we have regular visits from NHS nurses, St Mungo’s, who find accommodation for the homeless and Launchpad who themselves provide such accommodation.
Last year after many years of close co-operation and enjoying shared management, the Churches in Reading Women’s Centre (CIRWC) was absorbed into CIRDIC. Our centre in Oxford Road is a sanctuary for vulnerable women and their children, providing a safe environment where our guests are nurtured and encouraged to develop talents and skills.
Together, the two centres cost just under £100,000 to run each year.
If you would like to contribute to our Sleepout or to our funds generally, please visit our website www.cirdic.org.uk and follow the link.
PS Four of our seven Trustees participated in the Sleepout while another was on Street Pastors duty. If the thought of volunteering for CIRDIC or becoming a Trustee has occurred to you (and we will shortly be needing a new Treasurer) please contact our Manager, Mabel Boyd on our website www.cirdic.org.uk or on telephone number 07817 373773.