Thames Reach
Saturday 18 November 2017
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Hard To Reach fund helping former rough sleepers

Hard to Reach Fund Patrick
Will with his bicycle

A former rough sleeper is turning his life around thanks to the support of staff at a small Thames Reach hostel in Westminster, the Guinness Partnership and his love of cycling.

Will Cree, aged 64, had spent 50 years of his life either on the streets, in prison or in large homeless hostels, prior to moving into the Shroton Street hostel a year ago. Around the same time, he gave up drugs and alcohol and focused on improving his health including taking up cycling.

His support worker Sally Coombs encouraged him to lead a healthier lifestyle, and also joined him on the eight-mile London Prudential RideLondon Freecycle event in 2016, which passed a series of iconic London landmarks including Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Bank of England.

Will now wants to compete in the 2017 Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 46 mile event created specifically for newer cyclists and which follows part of the route made famous by the world’s best cyclists at the London 2012 Olympics.

He has successfully applied to the Thames Reach Hard to Reach Fund for the £39 entry fee, and is now hoping he is successful in the public ballot entry system.

The Hard to Reach Fund was set up recently to help formerly homeless people purchase items that will help them move away from a street lifestyle and get their lives back on track.

It is funded by the Guinness Partnership, one of the biggest providers of affordable housing and care in England, who donated £250,000.

Will said: “Cycling gives me a sense of freedom and wellbeing, and my goal is to increase my fitness levels and get in shape. I’ll also do some training for what is a longer and more gruelling event but cycling gives me a marvellous all round physiological and psychological feeling.

“Thanks to everyone including Sally and the funders who have made this all possible.”

Sally Coombs, lead worker at the Shroton Street hostel, said: “I believe that cycling will help Will in lots of ways with his recovery and overall wellbeing. When we completed the initial ride of eight miles, he felt a real sense of achievement.

“The next Prudential cycle ride of 46 miles gives him a goal to attain. Will likes to set himself challenges and by doing this, he is more motivated and focused. He has made incredible progress in the last six months especially.”