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Ex-homeless Dagenham woman sleeping outside for event to help rough sleepers

PUBLISHED: 17:00 18 October 2019

Lorraine Bailey is spending 12 hours outdoors in support of London's homeless. Picture: Saira Awan.

Lorraine Bailey is spending 12 hours outdoors in support of London's homeless. Picture: Saira Awan.

Saira Awan

A Dagenham woman who spent two years on the streets is set to spend a night outside to help London's rough sleepers.

Lorraine Bailey, 57, is raising money for the charity Streets of London. She wants to support the kind of organisation that helped her when she was out in the cold.

She is set to take part in the Sleep Out event tonight (Friday, October 18) at InSpire in Walworth's St Peter's Church. Streets of London has raised more than £35,000 through the event so far, which will see people stay outside from 8pm to 8am.

For Lorraine, who served in the Territorial Army's 36th Signal Regiment, it was mental illness that led her to lose her home.

She told the Post that she was 30 and living in Barking's Ripple Road when a doctor diagnosed her with schizophrenia. Unable to work and behind on her mortgage, she began sleeping on cardboard boxes in Waterloo - and she says she wouldn't have a home again for two years.

She said in that time she also started escaping from the mental health facilities that were trying to treat her until, in a state of delusion, she jumped in front of a train. She thought it would help people somehow.

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Soon after, doctors prescribed her a different drug. It worked. At 32, she came off the streets and into a council house.

"As soon as I got well, I decided I wanted to help the homeless," Lorraine said.

In her time on the streets, fellow rough sleepers told her where to find hot food and where homeless organisations could support her.

"The homeless people helped me so much, I thought I would help them back," she added.

"To me, the homeless are the most vulnerable people. They have been let down by a lot of society and they've got the potential to do so much.

"There are clever people on the streets. Often, they're left on the streets to languish when they could be doing really good stuff, given half the chance."

Lorraine now lives in Dagenham and spends her time volunteering for good causes.

Streets Of London funds specialist support and raises awareness about homelessness. More information about the event and the charity can be found at streetsoflondon.org.uk.

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