Photographing the Emmaus Charity Sleep Out in BridgendMonday April 20, 2015
Terry Waite Visits Bridgend Raising Awareness of Homelessness
I have had the pleasure of working with Jean, Tom and the team from Emmaus Wales for over a year now and I cannot understate the importance of their work and that of their team around the Welsh towns, cities and valleys. Emmaus is a homelessness charity with a difference, providing more than just a bed for the night for people who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion.
One of the first Emmaus charity events I covered was the sleep out in Porthcawl last year and so I was really looking forward to the event in 2015 which was being staged in Bridgend near their new shop. Sleeping out rough for one night might not seem difficult, but when the temperature drops to 4 degrees and the concrete pavements start radiating their cold into your bones, you suddenly have a very small taste of what life on the streets may be like.
This year, Terry Waite, a wonderfully gentle and truely inspirational man who is also President of Emmaus UK, visited Bridgend to meet those taking part. There was one wonderful moment where he met a young man who had just been able to leave the streets. The young man thanked Mr Waite for what Emmaus had done and the way in which they had helped him. It was a touching moment, maybe even more so because the young man was once again sleeping on the street for this one-off awareness event.
I had the opportuntiy to talk with him and managed to get a few photographs of him and his lovely dogs. I will be texting him some of the photographs at the end of the week.
As people tucked themselves away in shop doorways in or under cardboard boxes, there was beautiful singing from Ahnuh Valentine. As all photographers, I was simply a voyeur and watched as people ate the food provided by Gary Croney and listened to the wonderful performance.
Homelessness is a huge problem all over the UK and, sadly, I feel that without the work of charities such as Emmaus the plight of those finding themselves alone and on the streets would be one of hopelessness. More is needed to be done and the Government, whichever party is elected in May, needs to address this growing social problem. People who are sleeping rough need help and support from those more fortunate than them, at least to help them try and get them back on their feet.
That gentleman I met on Friday, who had been sleeping rough, just proved to me that the work being carried out by all the wonderful people of Emmaus is making a difference. They need support to continue to help more people and details can be found on their website.
Photographs of the sleep out can be seen in a new album in the charity section on my website.
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