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The long run

February 10 2011
Homeless woman to run Dublin marathon for the Doorway Project

A London-based, rough-sleeping blogger is running the Dublin marathon to raise money for a rural homeless charity.

Despite having no connection with Chippenham, where the Doorway Project is based, elusive social networker "Tom", 35, decided to raise money for the charity after making contact with their "fierce" manager, Lisa Lewis, on the social networking site Twitter.

"About 14 months ago I ran a 10k, which went quite well, and I always intended to do a marathon," she told The Pavement via email. "I just decided that being homeless did not have to prevent me from achieving this goal."

Tom fits in training on top of holding down a full-time agency job in the civil service. She has been on the streets since last May following an illegal eviction and has been Tweeting and blogging about her experiences ever since.

Juggling life on the streets, writing, work and training is no mean feat, though, and marathon preparation is slow; luckily, the event is not until 31 October. "I have the must the most useless training programme ever!" she confessed. "But I have deliberately chosen the Dublin Marathon because if all else fails, I can walk it!"

She has already paid for the running entry and travel by credit card, a luxury left over from a more settled life before she lost her second job, ran short of rent and was evicted. She is now provides insight into life on the streets and homeless services from an anti-begging standpoint.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps is among her 354 Twitter followers, as are many big homeless charities and trade journalists. Despite articles in the Guardian, Inside Housing and Connect, a magazine written by and for homelessness professionals, she has maintained her anonymity.

"I cannot be open about my identity because it will exist forever on the Internet linked to my name. I am intelligent enough and have enough forethought not to do that."

Although her insights fuel online debate about the way current policy is affecting homelessness, she is clear her writing is "absolutely not a political statement". It is more a diary incentivised by having an audience.

Correction 13/2/11: Tom became homeless when her landlord decided to sell her flat. Apologies for any embarassment caused.