In the midst of navigating the challenges of life without a home, Neil’s unwavering belief in people reminds us of the potential and purpose inside every person. 

Born and raised in Surrey, Neil sees this city as his home, despite being unhoused for 10 years. While facing the daily difficulty of finding a safe place to sleep, he has maintained a knack for spotting the unique value in others. As Neil shares: “If you give people half a chance, they may just surprise you.”  

Neil’s plight with homelessness began in 2014, after the loss of his parents. Navigating grief and the addiction that quelled it, searching for a place to belong became a challenge. He found himself living in an unstable shared house.

He tried to fit in with the people there, but when the house’s electricity was eventually shut off, he found himself homeless. He began staying at a shelter in Whalley and found NightShift’s hot meal outreach not long after. Neil regularly visits NightShift’s hot meal outreach and daytime drop-in, the Welcome Centre, where he has found friends and a sense of community.

“You gotta have friends, because in a lot of ways it’s the closest thing to having family out here,” Neil explains. “If I had a house right now, I’d probably still be coming to NightShift to see what everyone else has been up to.” 

During a visit to NightShift’s daytime drop-in, Welcome Centre, we asked Neil what he wishes people knew about folks without homes. “There are actually a lot of skilled homeless people out there. Artistic, really gifted in their talents and their trades,” Neil shares. If you take away the poverty and put them in the right situation and the right environment, they’d probably really shine in their skills and be very prosperous in whatever they do.”

In the Welcome Centre, Neil sips a coffee and conversationally shares some of his past jobs, like delivery driving, swamping and construction. He smiles broadly when he remembers his love for picking a guitar, something he learned as a teenager. Neil mentions the friends he has at Welcome Centre, and says here, he has found a sense of belonging and community.

“I feel like I’m part of something at NightShift,” Neil says. “I have friends here, and it doesn’t matter if you have a lot of money or a little money. We need each other.” 

 This Easter season and beyond, you can help share the hope of human connection, with friends like Neil, 365 nights a year, by becoming a monthly donor or sharing a one-time gift. 

Neil  comes to NightShift for a hot meal, a blanket, a change of clothes – and an even deeper nourishment for his soul.

“Coming to NightShift is kind of like coming home to your parents’ place,” Neil says, smiling. “The hot meal and the clothing and blankets are always a big help. It’s good to know I have family at NightShift. ”

From feeling connected and cared for at NightShift’s evening meal, Neil went on to discover other areas of ministry support, like our daytime drop-in, Welcome Centre, where he learned about our monthly haircuts and professional footcare.

Neil enjoys coming to haircut nights for the occasional sprucing up with a cut and a shave. “The haircuts are really great, When I went to a temp agency for work, they told me, ‘you should probably clean up a little bit, so you don’t look as scruffy when you’re out on a job.’ So, it’s always a big help to keep groomed.”

Neil found further care at NightShift’s monthly foot care clinics, where specialized nurses care for the podiatric needs of our friends from the street. Neil knows the urgent importance of footcare for people experiencing homelessness.

“When you’re in your boots everyday and you haven’t had a change of socks, you wind up wearing the same socks for a few days,” Neil says. “‘Street feet’ is a big epidemic amongst homeless people and a lot of people have lost limbs because of improper foot hygiene. So, it’s really important for health.”

Neil accesses services at NightShift to help meet his immediate needs – but he also comes for the deeper, long term need for friendship, belonging and community. It all helps fuel Neil’s hopes for the future. “I hope to get off the streets and have a place of my own, where I can have a few nice things. But I’ll still come back to NightShift to see how my friends are doing.”

This Easter season and beyond, your generous giving will help meet basic needs and secure a sense of ‘coming home’ for Neil, and countless others.

Just $50 a month provides 10 vulnerable people a welcoming community, a hot meal, clothing, plus access to crisis counselling and basic nursing care. We are grateful for your generosity that keeps our services open to people who need it most.

Thank you for reading Neil’s story, and being part of the story at NightShift. We are blessed when we connect with people and share of each other’s lives. When we invest in relationships – we get a glimpse into people’s stories and their hopes for the future.

This Easter, many of us will experience the joy of having family and friends around the dinner table. As we prepare to celebrate, may we remember and act upon what Jesus accomplished through his death and resurrection: He broke all barriers to invite every person, no matter what their circumstances, into the hope of new life.

With your help, NightShift is following Jesus’ example, welcoming all to “come home” and encounter unconditional love, hope and purpose. Thank you, with all our hearts, for being part of that!

By joining LOVE365, you can care for your neighbours in need today