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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Vital soup runs - a response

May 18 2009
A reader remembers the period of his life when soup runs were a lifeline Dear Editor, I vividly remember landing quite hard in London - broke, addicted, alone, hungry and trying to stave off a gnawing sense of hopelessness. During the bus ride from Berlin, I floated alongside my castle-in-the-sky aspirations of renewal, discovery and the blissful future tense of finding the 'great right way' in this strange and exciting capital city. However, the reality of my raging drug addiction - buttressed with pangs of loneliness and emotional upheaval - spoke louder than any thoughts or words. And the mirror of keeping-it-real earnestly reflected that I came to this city to run away from myself. When I got off the bus at Victoria Station, I had no winter jacket. Within an hour, the chilling London winds got the best of me; hope and aspirations vanished as the razor-sharp edge of the elements began to close in. Though I was still under the thrall of heroin and crack cocaine, I could not contain the painful emotions that welled up inside. I ran behind an alley and cried out to God. Shortly afterwards, I searched high and low for a mission or crisis hostel that would provide shelter for the night. After knocking on several doors and trying to decipher some babble talk about benefits, boroughs and hotlines, I sullenly went to Heathrow Airport, Terminal 4, and slept. Now, two-and-a-half years later, I am clean and sober, through the help of God and significant others. I am living in my own flat and slowly convalescing from the side-effects of six months of Interferon therapy for my Hepatitis C, which, unfortunately, I didn't respond to. Yet, there is something that moves inside me that is hard to express in words, but I will try. During this past holiday season, I took a long walk down Memory Lane through my tortured years of drug addiction, periods of homelessness, rough sleeping, mental hospitals, institutions and prisons. As I began to juxtapose those memories with where I am at today (clean and sober), my heart became full and my soul bore witness to the words of Martin Luther King and his mountaintop experience. Today, I am a living testament who dwells in the Promised Land. I wrote this letter because of your article on the debate over soup runs in London. I want to thank all the organisations and volunteers who are actively involved in soup runs throughout London. When I was hungry, you fed me; and when I was naked, you clothed me with your unspoken compassion. In my hour of despair, you touched me. You did not in any way enable me to stay on the streets, but rather gave sustenance and light in a time of need. I am also grateful to Marylebone Rolling Shelter, Jesus Army and St Mungo's, whose invaluable assistance helped me to establish a sure-footed foundation from which to find my feet. Rudi Richardson Dear Rudi, Thank you for your letter. We've passed a copy to the Soup Run Forum so your thanks can reach the right people. Editor