New Poems by J

Why do dogs bark? Perhaps they know something we humans don’t.



Outside the supermarket

shoppers getting into their stride

and I’m left with their legs outside

and a whirl of trolley wheels.


Looking for a bargain?

Look at me I’m barking.

A warning or invitation to play

that’s your guess, if you dare.


So I’m anxious, who cares?

Be annoyed or amused, so what?

Angry, impatient or just spoilt

I’m Minnie. Here comes the boss

and there he goes, what’s he

forgotten this time

hope it’s not me

tied to this pole…bark! bark!


This poem speaks for itself too.

Somebody’s Home

Somebody’s home

Somebody’s calling

Somebody’s home

Somebody’s falling


Dark pools of night concrete and ice

An inhuman sacrifice


Count your blessings

Know your place

Focus on the human race

If one falls were all the less

Someone else clears up the mess


Whose mess is it anyway?


When the plans were drawn

And the future was omitted

They made me pay for their mistake

Just for their reputation’s sake





























Posted in Art, Homelessness, Mental Health, Poetry | Leave a comment

Information for the Sponsored SleepOut – 23rd January 2016

SleepOut photoMessage to all the lovely peeps who have expressed an interest in joining us for the sponsored SleepOut on Saturday 23rd January:

You need to make sure that you read the information pack before signing up, Especially the check list of items to bring along on the night.

You will be cold and miserable if you do not bring a big enough cardboard box, sleeping bag, torch and thermals etc. Actually you will be cold and miserable anyway but the provisions will make it just a little more bearable at 4am.

We don’t yet know what the weather forecast will be but historically the temperature has dropped to well below zero with the wind chill.

You will most definitely need to complete a registration form and bring it with you on the night. You will not be allowed to remain on site if you do not have this piece of paper for health and safety reasons.

There will be an ambulance on site and St John Ambulance first aiders who will need to have your medical information provided on the form in case of an emergency.

Any questions then please ask…

Huge thanks to everyone who is planning to support us on the night. You have no idea how grateful we are. We can raise a stonking £10,000 holding this event which is a huge amount of money!!!

Download the pack here:-   Doorway SleepOut 2016 info pack

Photos from the previous events can be found on our flickr page 

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The dogs need to be looked after as well as the owners

It has become apparent over the years that, during Doorway drop-in sessions, our dogs need to be looked after as well as our guests. Leaving them outside in the cold and the rain can be heartbreaking. Especially when they look at you, through the glass door, with big sorrowful brown eyes whilst shivering uncontrollably…

And so, very recently, we had one of those brilliant ‘lightbulb moments’ and sourced a couple of cheap pop up dog kennels to try out:-

This subsequently inspired our new Support Services Manager, Gail, to write a poem about the Doorway dogs:-

Winter is coming, there’s frost on the ground

It’s hard being homeless when you’re a hound

Cold tongues and noses, wet coats and feet

Are par for the course for a dog on the street

Furry surfers of sofas and seekers of sheds

Who dream of warm fires and comfortable beds

Who can’t go to the Council or bid for a flat

Who have to rely on a human for that

All that waiting outside; all that watching of doors

All that catching a wink on unsuitable floors

Living a life dodging different dangers

Living on luck and the kindness of strangers

It’s a dog’s life alright, and for humans as hard

It’s no good in the hood when you ain’t got a yard

But there’s rumours afoot in the Chippenham air

Re: temporary housing and bed space to spare

Tales are wagging and shaggy dogs telling

The news that they sense on the air they are smelling

They go down to Doorway and find out it’s true

“Hey doggies, we’ve got comfy kennels for you!”

One has a sniff and the other a lick

And one gives the new pop up kennels some stick

One crawls inside and another freaks out

“What on earth,” say the dogs, “is the tent thing about?

It’s hard to assimilate cultural change

The kennels, let’s face it, are awfully strange

But the humans look happy and that’s pretty neat

Always a good thing to keep humans sweet

And it’s really quite nice of them, thinking of us

Best use the things so they don’t make a fuss

Just crawl in and smile “Hey, this is quite cool!”

“Speak for yourself, mate, I feel like a tool”

“But it’s warmer in here, so maybe chill out?”

“Less of the ‘chill’, it’s the heat I’m about”

So went the debate, it was fairly immense

Till all dogs agreed that some stuff was intense

That the kennels were handy and kept out the cold

And that humans are weird and like, comedy gold

They were really quite glad that the kennels had popped up

That their core body temperatures had been topped up

And that folk gave them snacks and stuff for their dinner

Yep, the whole kennel thing was an actual winner

But lunchtime passed quickly and soon it was gone

It was time for the dogs to pack up and crack on

With doggy bags sorted they left with their folk

And went hunting for dog ends to roll up and smoke

Oh, housing’s a nightmare and tricky to handle

A difficult issue, an absolute scandal

But on Mondays and Thursdays the doggies can glamp

Pop up to the drop in and hang out and camp…

In between times the Doorway staff find with a frown

That what can pop up does not always pop down

The kennels are springy and just won’t play ball

And no-one can pack up the bu**ers at all

Goodness knows where they can stash ‘em or stick ‘em

Not one of them knows how to fold up and lick ‘em

It’s like playing Twister, such weird convolutions

Like trying to find flippin’ housing solutions

A couple of years ago A’s dog Wilf was featured in a video filmed by his son in Chippenham. Wilf is just about the hairiest dog I have ever seen and looks fantastic against the backdrop of a snowy winterland.

Posted in Charity, Chippenham, Homelessness, News, Poetry, Uncategorized, Wiltshire | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It will come when it comes

It will come when it comes

Winter is approaching and unless we can escape to the southern hemisphere for a few months we can’t avoid it; the colder weather, the rain and gales and short dreary days. For many people this is a challenging time of year but may be more so if contending with homelessness, an uncertain tenancy or poor physical and/or mental health. SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is a well-documented condition that even in a mild form can make winter seem an endless misery. The spectre of Christmas can also bring a chill all of its own; for some a time of celebration with family and friends that throws into sharp relief the cheerless and lonely experience it is for others.

I don’t mind winter. I like the ebb and flow of the seasons but winter often makes me feel I need to hibernate—not for the whole three months but I could easily lose a couple of weeks before the winter solstice. After this the promise of the sun’s return helps wake me up.

I’d not set a theme for our recent writing session but there was a wintery mood about. One of our guests, J, who had never attended the writing group, was unsure what to write and where to start but definitely didn’t want to write a poem. I am wary of being too prescriptive as I know if I say write this or that then what is produced won’t be what the guest wants or needs to write. A more subtle prompt can come from looking at pictures or photos. I have word-cards that can be chosen intuitively, as well as a lucky-dip bag full of small items that when retrieved might inspire a response. Other people’s writing can also set things rolling. Lately I’ve been reading poems by Elizabeth Bishop and Charles Causley, very different poets but both very acute observers who produce very readable poems. I used to feel daunted by well-written poetry or prose, because I felt I never could be that accomplished, but now I am more positive and try to be inspired by them rather than overwhelmed. I’ve also learned that a good poem takes time and patience. You can’t hurry a poem but sometimes a poem comes when it’s needed and can seem like gift.

In the end I gave J some paper and a pen and this is what he wrote:

So Long To Wait

I’m here because I was feeling depressed.

I don’t have any hope at the moment

so long to wait

4 weeks before things might get better

seems like a lifetime to wait so long.

Better here than wait at home?


I love seagulls – never go to the seaside

never go on holiday—

haven’t been on holiday for 40 years

since I was at school.

Winter coming now – 6 months of dark and cold

no leaves on the trees, very depressing future.

By J O

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In which we find out that not everyone is tolerant and compassionate….

…of those who choose to live their lives outside society’s norms.

One of our long term entrenched rough sleepers left us in the summer of 2014 to move on to a very small village in the deepest depths of Somerset. He had been in our area for years and we had, very early on, signposted him to mental health services and attempted to get him housed. However, J didn’t want any help. He didn’t want to be housed and he didn’t like his daily routine being upset. He kept himself to himself and bothered no one. The only time he interacted with the public outside our drop-in sessions was to fill up his travel mug with tea from the local cafes & restaurants.

Then one day he just disappeared and we were very concerned about his welfare. And then rather extraordinarily, the postmaster at a small village post office in Somerset contacted me in the Doorway office to ask me to send down any post that we had received for J.

The postmaster has been in touch with me regularly, since J’s arrival in the area, to keep my updated on his welfare. The villagers were looking after him and making sure that his post was getting to him and he was being fed etc. I even spoke to the local Council who were aware of his presence in the area but not particularly bothered since there was no cause for alarm and J wasn’t causing any trouble.

However, very recently, J moved from the village since the flight plans at the local air base were changed and helicopters started regularly low flying over his field which obviously distressed him enough that he needed to move location.

I have just had an update from the village postmaster  and he says that J has now moved on to another village who are so intolerant of him that the villagers have all united together and raised a petition to get him physically removed from the area.

J is totally harmless. He has no alcohol or drug dependencies. He is on the autistic spectrum and just wants to be left alone to live his life outside and by himself with no interference from the public. He doesn’t want to be housed and has his own reasons for living the lifestyle that he chooses.

Shame on the entire village for their lack of compassion…

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 Hi all, I grew up in Cyprus (RAF) mollycoddled and poor, the most wonderful childhood. 9 years in all, total freedom, add to that Malta, Gibraltar, Germany etc.

Then we landed in Calne. Culture shock or what!

I already knew how to fight, they teach boxing in my schools, but nothing prepared me for Wiltshire. It certainly added a new dimension.

Then I ran off the rails, became an alcoholic. Name a drug and I’ve done it. Was homeless for 10 years, lived in a bus, caravans, tents or just under a hedge.

My Dad said “why can’t you just settle down!”

Dad! You’ve dragged me round the world and expect me to settle down!

My point is the lovely people of Wiltshire have settled me down, and put up with me. I’ve never met people who will ground you like this before. I love this county and all who live here and that’s it I’m done.

Big shout to Doorway in Chippenham. Fantastic people who helped me so much in my darkest days. Love you all.

Oh and by the way if anyone needs a carpenter….

Neil June 2015

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A “Green” Bag-Packer (The Reward)

WOW: I am truly honoured to have been invited to Sainsbury’s this morning for the Cheque Presentation for Sainsbury’s Chippenham Charity of the Year 2014-2015.  Doorway was presented by Sainsbury’s a Cheque for an AMAZING (I hope you are sitting down) £8510.91.

I would like to Thank Michelle,Darren,Rory,Katie,Jacqui and Di (thanks for the delicious piece of cake) for hosting us this morning. Special Thanks to all the Staff and Customers who did an awesome job helping raise the FANTASTIC amount. Good luck to the next Charity to be chosen, you will be in fantastic hands.

Feel really proud to have given my time over the past 12 months to help raise the money, although my part was very small. Thanks again to Lisa and team Doorway for allowing me to take part, I really had a brilliant time.

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