Stronger Together: 519Pursuit
An outreach group in London is taking a friendship-based approach to helping the most vulnerable.
The empathy-driven 519Pursuit believes in meeting community members facing homelessness right where they are.
Cathy became homeless after her husband died and says it was a terrifying experience that left her feeling scared and vulnerable.
“It was like everything got lost, and I just went to the street, where else was I going, I had nowhere else to go but to the street…You get picked on, you get spit upon, stepped upon, you’re basically the undesirable of society, nobody wants you."
She wasn’t sure how she would get her life back, until she met 519Pursuit Co-founder Allison DeBlaire, and the group's volunteers.
The outreach program puts kindness and understanding at the forefront of their work.
“When we show up as friends and nothing else it really ignites something in the individual, to realize that there's people out there that do care," DeBlaire says. "So just showing up, and letting them know there are people who do care and that people in the community that are working towards a better life for you and a better tomorrow for you, it ignites great positive change.”
Cathy says the program gave her support and more.
“It gave me a reason to believe I can keep going. It gave me a reason to believe there is still good in the world. "
The outreach team gives attention to those who are rarely access shelter services and provides specialized care packages.
"Clothed in things that are comfortable for them, shoes that fit them and clean socks to star their day. When we can build them from the feet up and remind them that you are you, you are seen and you're heard, it can support a better day forward," DeBlaire explains.
With the help of 519 pursuit. Cathy was able to get off the street and into affordable housing.
"519 was like that light at the end of the tunnel of darkness," Cathy says. "That no matter how bad life got, you can look to that and always just keep going, keep going, keep going. Things will get better."
In partnership with the London Food Bank and RBC Place, the group has been able to provide over 45,000 hot meals since the start of the pandemic.
And their recent Sock Drop fundraiser collected over 75,000 pairs of socks.