Walking the capital

Charity trustee Winston Reid explains why he’s walking around London in a big circle

Branches charity walkers

The Branches charity walkers set off from Walthamstow in April

This year Branches Hostel in Walthamstow is celebrating 21 years of providing temporary housing and support services to single homeless people in the borough.

As part of our anniversary events two Branches trustees, myself and Gilbert Stowe, are walking the Capital Ring, which is a 78-mile circular walk around London, to raise funds and awareness of the work of the hostel.

We began at Walthamstow Marshes on 29th April and have now reached Crystal Palace in south London. Over the summer months we will be walking through places such as Richmond Park, Harrow on the Hill, Welsh Harp Reservoir, Highgate Wood, and Woodberry Wetlands, to name a few. Our walk will end at Branches Hostel.

But what started as a small group has now grown to 15, including family members and friends who want to support Branches and what we are seeking to do. Our bright ‘uniform’ has attracted attention as well, and this has given us the opportunity to talk about the work of Branches in particular, and street homelessness in London generally.

Working with a range of partners and specialist staff, Branches provides support for residents who have mental health, drug and alcohol addictions, as well as other challenges, which come from having been homeless. We facilitate and help residents develop vital life-skills necessary to maintain independence when they leave Branches.

While we are part-funded by Waltham Forest Council, we increasingly have to look to other sources for revenue and capital funding so that we can continue to provide current and future services. Therefore, we are hugely grateful to the financial and other voluntary support given by the community and from shoppers at Sainsbury’s and the Co-operative supermarket.

The money we raise on our epic walk will be put towards an expansion of Branches’ resettlement services, where we support ex-residents for up to 12 months after they have left the hostel so that they can sustain their tenancy and remain in their new home. We also need new equipment in the kitchen and gym.

The reason for us doing this walk can be summarised by a recent donor who wrote: “I met one of your hostel residents and speaking to him broke my heart. I also realised that it could happen to any of us! Then I saw this appeal in the appeal. So all the best for a great cause!”

Our target is to raise £1,500, and so far we have reached the half-way mark. So please help us to continue providing this invaluable service by donating!


To support the Branches team:

Visit my.give.net/WinstonReid