Donna Hannah, from Rangers Charity Foundation, had a profound experience when she visited Glasgow City Misison. Read her blog below, which first appeared on the Rangers Charity Foundation website.
'Some things once seen cannot be unseen and alter your perspective on life. Such an event happened to me on a recent visit to Glasgow City Mission with my colleagues from Rangers Charity Foundation.
'I was asked to help at their press conference to launch the Foundation’s partnership with the City Mission and its pledge to raise £25,000 for the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter.
'I have driven past the City Mission building on numerous occasions but had no idea of the vital service and support they provide for our city’s many homeless people. Whilst I am well aware of the problem of homelessness in our city and have walked past shop doorways and had seen people sleeping rough, my contact had been at arms length, stopping only to offer my spare change and pleased with myself that I had done my bit for the day. That was until my encounter with a gentle old soul I met that afternoon at the Mission.
'This lovely old man saw me standing alone and trying very hard not to get in the way of the volunteers who were cheerfully serving lunch to the first visitors who had been forming a queue outside the Mission doors.
'He wanted to show me the polo shirt he had selected from the clothes donations table. We admired it together and I asked how often he visited the Mission. I learned it was twice a week. Did he make friends with his fellow visitors? Sadly, not, he always ate lunch on his own. Did he have any family in the city? He told me he had a brother and sister but had no contact with them and hadn’t seen them in years. Then he told me he doesn’t ever remember being loved, then corrected himself and told me there was someone very special a long, long time ago but she moved away and he has never heard from her again.
'He folded his polo shirt and put it into his bag along with his other possessions which amounted to a small Bible, a worry stone and a little clear pebble with an angel figure inlaid. That was it, all he owned in the entire world. He told me he walked all over the city and when I glanced down at his feet, his boots were burst at the seams and had holes in them. It was heartbreaking but there was no hint of self-pity from him and I was left feeling humble as we said our goodbyes.
'Last week I received an email from my Charity Foundation colleagues, seeking volunteers for a ‘Winter Sleep Out’ at the stadium to help raise both funds and awareness for the fantastic work the City Mission does. The sponsorship money raised from volunteers will go towards the £25,000 target the Foundation has pledged to keep the Winter Night Shelter open during the often extremely cold month of March. With 50 people sleeping rough every night in our city I didn’t hesitate and signed up immediately.
'So, at the beginning of December, along with some other brave volunteers, I will be ‘roughing’ it pitch-side.
'I expect the experience to be harsh, however, I’m not pretending this gesture in any way compares to the rough and threatening conditions that the homeless, like so many of the people the Mission help, face on the streets every night. At least I have the comfort of knowing that when it’s over I can go home safely to my family.
'This is a fantastic initiative by our Charity Foundation, one which I am proud to support and I am equally proud of the many fans from the Rangers family who have already signed up to join us in December.'
The Glasgow Winter Night Shelter runs from 1 December 2015 to 31 March 2016, at 35 East Campbell Street, Glasgow, G1 5DT. Thanks to our partnership with Rangers Charity Foundation, the night shelter will this year open for four months, rather than three. Read more about the night shelter and the partnership with Rangers Charity Foundation here.