Homeless campaigner hits Edinburgh’s cobbles

Gordon Cruden, area manager of addiction recovery charity Teen Challenge North East Scotland.

Gordon Cruden, area manager of addiction recovery charity Teen Challenge North East Scotland.

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A charity campaigner is to sleep rough on the streets of five UK cities in an effort to shine a spotlight on the desperation of homelessness.

Gordon Cruden, area manager of addiction recovery charity Teen Challenge North East Scotland, is tackling the ‘Hungry for the Homeless and Addicted’ challenge, which has seen him become voluntarily homeless for 30 days.

It’s one thing to hear about people’s problems but it’s another thing to feel what they feel.

Gordon Cruden

With no money, no food and no spare clothes, Gordon is attempting to survive sleeping rough in five cities across the UK and Ireland – London, Cardiff, Dublin, Belfast and Edinburgh.

He launched the initiative in London last month and after also visiting Cardiff, Dublin, and Belfast, will sleep tonight in Edinburgh to experience and negotiate the city’s homeless systems.

Throughout the challenge, he’s coming alongside people sleeping rough, finding out what led to their homelessness and telling their stories.

Gordon has no support network and so has to find soup kitchens and food banks for meals, as well as a bed – or a doorway – for shelter.

He is undertaking the challenge in an effort to raise awareness of the plight of hurting people and to raise funds for the purchase of female addiction recovery centre, Benaiah, in the North East of Scotland.

The facility – which allows mothers to continue living with their children while they complete the 48-week addiction recovery programme, Teen Challenge – is currently rented.

However, the purchase of the property would mean the centre could provide hurting women with residential support on a permanent basis.

To date, £194,000 has been raised of the £535,000 required to buy Benaiah.

Gordon said: “It’s one thing to hear about people’s problems but it’s another thing to feel what they feel. This challenge is allowing me to feel the harsh realities that homeless people have to deal with.

“The main aim of the challenge is to shine a light on the shocking plight of our homeless. All kinds of circumstances can play a part in pushing men and women onto the streets but, at the centre of each case, you’ll find a lonely and hurting individual desperately in need of help and support.

“We often welcome people from the streets into our addiction recovery facilities and so I also aim to raise cash for our campaign to Buy Benaiah, where broken women can have their lives dramatically changed.”

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