A group of fundraisers prepare to abseil from the top of the stadium. They are wearing hardhats and harnesses.

Abseilers descend from Twickenham stadium in aid of homelessness charity

A group of 100 abseilers descended from Twickenham stadium last week in aid of a charity helping homeless people to rebuild their lives.

The team made the 100ft descent on Thursday 12 October to raise money for Change Please, a coffee enterprise that donates 100% of its profits to supporting the homeless through a ‘jobs first’ approach, providing barista training, living wage employment, secure housing and a bank account.

The challenge was part of the charity’s ‘Ten Days for Change’ fundraiser to mark World Coffee Day on 1 October and World Homelessness Day on 10 October, with abseilers including members of the Change Please Team and representatives from their corporate partners, as well as friends and family.

Lorelei Piper, 24, who took part in the challenge, said: “The abseil was terrifying, I hated it from start to end and I will never do it again, but I am glad that I did it for the charity!

“I’m really, really proud I did it and so happy that everyone has been sponsoring us.”

“Even getting me on the zip wire on the Year 7 camping trip was a huge feat of teamwork!”

100 FOOT DROP: The Change Please team abseil from the top of Twickenham stadium

Lorelei is the daughter of the Head of Fundraising at Change Please and has been a supporter of the charity over the last two years. 

She said: “It’s such a simple concept, like The Big Issue but with coffee. Everyone wants coffee, and, if you’re like me, you need four a day or you’re on the floor!”

Lorelei also expressed her appreciation for the round-the-clock work carried out by the charity.

She said: “I remember being out with my Mum and Godmother once and seeing a homeless man coughing severely.

“It was a Sunday and no homelessness charity was operating, and I thought to myself, ‘this isn’t a Monday to Friday, nine-to-five issue.’

“But you can buy coffee anytime, so Change Please gives people the ability to interact with complete strangers and learn new skills. I think it’s excellent.”

Angela Kay, head of fundraising at Change Please, expressed her pride in her daughter Lorelei for taking part in the challenge as well as her gratitude to Twickenham Stadium and the charity’s corporate partners.

ALL SMILES: Lorelei Piper braving the descent. Image credit: Lorelei Piper

David Lloyd, one of Change Please’s founding partners, has contributed more than £2 million to the charity and sells the coffee in its gyms.

A team of 11 from the health club chain took part in the abseil for the charity on Thursday.

Melissa Conway, a social media executive at David Lloyd and member of the abseiling team, said: “It was amazing!

“This is definitely out of my comfort zone so I did need a push to do it, but it was a great experience with the team.”

TEAM SPIRIT: Fundraisers from David Lloyd get ready to abseil. Image credit: Change Please

Fundraising has enabled Change Please to develop initiatives such as Driving for Change, which sends buses to different London boroughs where homelessness is at its most severe.

The buses provide therapy support, essential medical care and haircuts and now help more than 1,000 homeless people in London.

Rebecca Benham, Marketing and Social Media Executive at Change Please, said: “without fundraising, projects like Driving for Change wouldn’t be possible.”

The buses are sponsored by HSBC and Colgate.

HSBC help Change Please provide no fixed address bank accounts to the homeless, while Colgate supplies the charity with essential dental products.

Michelle Berry, who works on-board the Driving for Change buses, said: “We don’t turn anybody away. People come here and they are not judged.”

“This is a safe and comfortable space where people can relax and then start to open up to us about their problems.”

DRIVING FOR CHANGE: One of the buses helping London’s homeless

The majority of Change Please outlets began in London, and they are now operating in eight countries and hope to move onto a national rollout across the UK.

Change Please supported 434 people experiencing homelessness in 2022, with 166 trained as baristas, and 79% of graduates of the training scheme remain in education or employment after leaving the programme.

Joao, 47, who was faced with homelessness last year, said: “I was homeless and sleeping on friends’ floors after losing my passport with no job or job prospects.

“I was really down, depressed at my situation.”

Joao is now the first barista to be employed with Change Please, working in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) head office in Westminster. 

“Now my confidence is back and I’m helping people every single day – it’s helped me become a complete person again”, he said.

INSIDE: A dental treatment room on-board a Driving for Change bus

The deadline for the UK government to end rough sleeping in England by 2024 is approaching.

But a recent report by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) has shown a 21% rise in the number of rough sleepers seen in London in 2023 compared to last year.

10,053 rough sleepers were seen in London between April and March 2021-22, compared to 8,329 in the same period in 2022-23.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has described the increase as “extremely alarming”.

Founded in 2015, Change Please is an award-winning social enterprise whose mission is to end homelessness through selling great-tasting coffee.

Their coffee is sold at 12 retail sites in the UK, including Borough Market, Canary Wharf and Queen Elizabeth Park.

Donations can be made to the charity’s fundraising page here.

CHANGE PLEASE: An advertisement outside a coffee stand

Featured image credit: Change Please

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