The efforts were informed by Rathour’s own experiences of homelessness. He spent 22 weeks on the streets following a divorce and has also battled alcohol addiction. The experience scarred him – he has trained in counselling to help deal with the strain that rough sleeping can put on mental health first-hand.
“I know what it’s like to be out on the street. I know what it’s like to be vulnerable and how scary it is,” Rathour told The Big Issue. “That’s why I’m accredited for counselling for those that have been or are experiencing addiction issues. I’m focusing on the alcohol side of things because this is what happened with me. I was near-death a few times.
“Working in the pandemic is very hectic, extremely hectic. When we started on New Year’s Day it was only supposed to be a one-off thing. But the response and the amount of people that we helped out, it was shocking. Even for someone like me, who has been on the streets themselves. We knew that we needed to continue with this.”
Now Rathour fears that the crisis mode London Homeless Welfare Team have been operating in will continue throughout this winter.
He has backed The Big Issue’s Stop Mass Homelessness campaign as he fears his team of five will be needed to help more people than ever in the winter ahead.
“I wanted to say that we are fully supporting and backing the campaign because of the cuts [to Universal Credit],” added Rathour. “We are extremely worried about the months ahead because this is going hand-in-hand with what we’re having to do now. We’re having to facilitate a lot more food now because a lot more people are coming out on the streets and recently a lot more people got in touch with us for food. We’re talking families with young children.”
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