A man who survived living on the streets for a year and ended up in hospital with pneumonia will stage a sleep out in memory of homeless people who have died.

Thomas Anderson is hoping to raise cash for Walthamstow-based charity Christian Kitchen after it helped him get back on his feet.

He is one of 12 people planning to sleep in Walthamstow Town Square this weekend where a choir and a vicar will lead prayers in a remembrance service.

The 62-year-old of Southcote Road, Walthamstow said: “I want to sleep out because I feel strongly about the plight of the homeless in the borough.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

“I ended up sleeping in Walthamstow Market and the surrounding area in 2008 after my marriage broke down.

“It was very cold and dirty but I got immune to it after a while.

“The worst thing was trying to find cover from the rain because there were not many places I could find.

“I was working as a bin man for the council and every morning I would get up at 5am for work.

“The only things I had were my sleeping bag and the clothes I stood in.”

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

Figures released last week show Waltham Forest has the sixth-highest rate of homelessness in the country, with one in 36 people, or 7,634 in total, without a permanent dwelling.

The father-of-four said although his wife who was living in Islington knew he was homeless, he decided not to tell any other family members or his employer.

After spending a month in hospital suffering from pneumonia and being diagnosed with diabetes he was assigned a room at YMCA Hostel in Forest Road, Walthamstow.

It was through the hostel Mr Anderson met volunteers at Christian Kitchen who helped find him permanent accommodation.

The former bin man now helps the charity serve hot meals to homeless men and women in Walthamstow throughout the year and is involved in the running of the annual Christmas Lunch.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

Christian Kitchen provides hot meals for homeless people 365 days a year.

He is also a volunteer at Forest Churches Emergency Night Shelter which operates during the winter months.

He added: “When I was homeless I didn’t know about the night shelter and I felt there was no support.

“I would wash in the bathrooms of a local pub and then look for somewhere to bed down for the night.

“I didn’t tell my family in Scotland because they would want me to go back there and I had a job here.

“I missed the home comforts of having family and friends visit you.”

The prayer service in Walthamstow Town Square will take place at 9pm on Friday, November 17.

For more information about Christian Kitchen click here.