The Matthew Wright show has helped launch a ‘Homeless Heroes’ campaign to support the journey of a former Emmaus Greenwich resident as he embarks on a three-week walk from London to Bristol to raise awareness of mental health.
On Thursday 28 March, Tony Long and Patrick O’Brien set off from Brentford, London, to raise awareness of mental health and its effect on homelessness. The pair, who have both suffered from mental health issues, have collectively been homeless for almost seven years and met on the street two years ago.
Both Tony and Pat regularly sleep outside of the talkRADIO studios and caught the attention of show host Matthew Wright after waving at him on his way into work. When hearing about their walk to Bristol, Wright enlisted the support of talkRADIO.
Matthew Wright, talkRADIO show host, said: “When they told me they wanted to walk to Bristol to raise awareness of mental health and raise awareness for the homeless, it seemed obvious for us at talkRADIO to get on board and help them. Since then, the plan has exploded, and co-host Kevin O’Sullivan will spend a night with them. We’ll be discussing homelessness in the Royal Borough of Windsor and throwing a huge reception for the two gents when arrive in Bristol in time for Easter.”
The walk, which will see Tony and Pat travel over 110 miles, will finish on Easter Sunday and is raising money for homelessness charity Emmaus Greenwich. Tony received support from Emmaus Greenwich after being homeless for nearly four years following a breakdown.
“I woke up one morning in 2014 and left my home. I was in the process of splitting up with my wife, I was working non-stop running four kitchens as a chef and my grandfather, who had a massive influence on my life, passed away. Not knowing I was having a breakdown meant that I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing and simply left in only a t-shirt and jeans on a cold January morning.”
Tony spent those years sleeping by the OXO tower and Victoria station, and sold The Big Issue to raise money to purchase coach tickets so he could travel to coastal areas where he would spend a few weeks at a time before returning to London. After two years on the street, Tony contacted his family, who understood that he was ill and supported him while he began to take steps to progress his life.
“Somehow being on the street, and all the travelling and time, allowed me to come through my breakdown completely different to before, and when I moved to Emmaus Greenwich the structure it provided helped me further. I’m so thankful to Emmaus for the support they gave me and now hope to give something back to them, so they can help other people who are homeless.”
talkRADIO will be getting regular updates from the pair throughout their walk, with co-host Kevin joining them in Windsor to walk a leg of the journey and spend a night in a tent with them.
To donate to Tony and Pat’s cause, visit here.
To keep up to date with Tony and Pat’s walk, follow them on twitter @tonyandpat2.