Highway House began with two homeless men, found sheltering in a shopfront.
“My wife Dorcas came across them, chatted with them and invited them to come and share a meal. The arrived two days later on the Saturday only to find that Highway was closed. They returned on the Monday with the crumpled leaflet she had given them stuffed in their pocket. They came in talked about their needs and we decided we could provide them with a hot meal three nights a week.
About a month later we were surprised when we opened the door to find 20 more faces peering in back at us. The men had invited their friends – other men, in similar situations, living on the streets and in need, ‘home for dinner’.
Highway House was born then – although we didn’t realise at the time.
We soon decided to turn one of the toilets into a shower, so the men could wash, change, feel fresh and clean.The change in their confidence was enormous and soon the men were feeling more positive. They were able to go to job interviews clean and tidy and in turn they began to become more sociable with each other.
One particular week after dinner, I decided to sit and chat a bit more with the men. I was pulled aside by a young man who began to confide in me. He felt so desperate in his situation that he was planning to commit suicide that night. Something told me he was serious and that if I let this man go, I would never see him again. So I invited him to stay for the night, offering just the floor to sleep on.
I couldn’t turn away the other men, to let just one stay and although I felt it wasn’t much, to him and his friends who stayed, it meant the world. I too spent the night, watching over them, unsure what to expect.
The magnitude of this small gesture propelled me to open our doors for men to sleep on the floor, every evening that we served food. These three nights a week soon became seven nights a week when the coldest winter in 30 years set in, in 2009.
However, our work has not been without challenges. We have faced threats of eviction and experienced opposition from authorities. There have been several points over the past 7 years that very survival of Highway House has been in jeopardy. Yet we continue as strong as ever.
Today we have found favour with the authorities. We now receive referrals from the major hospitals in London: Guys and St Thomas, University College Hospital along with the British Red Cross, Crisis, the Refugee Council, Haringey council, the police, local churches, other homeless charities.
We have seen our alcoholics fully recover, get into employment and move into their own accommodations. The stories of the men are amazing, yet seeing them regain their life is one of the most rewarding experiences.”
Reverend Alex Gyasi
The full story of Highway House including all the challenges and what happened to the first two men that were helped, has been carefully documented in ‘The Test Room’ written by Rev. Alex Gyasi.
Includes additional stories from some of the homeless men who have been helped by Highway House. Proceeds from the sale of this book go towards the work of Highway House.
AVAILABLE NOW! Purchase your own copy to keep.
Look at the RESEARCH – how every £1 you give to us gives £5 back to society
Take a look at Life inside Highway House – Image Gallery
Read the amazing stories of our residents here – Our Residents Stories