Years of homelessness in Toronto shape London woman’s new library book

After years of homelessness, a London woman has written her story in a new memoir which will be on the shelves of the Central Branch of the London Public Library next week.

“It’s more than made my dream come true,” said Sandie Lynn Fletcher, whose life changed when she moved to London seven years ago to escape life on the streets in Toronto.

Feelings inside of me shares insights into Fletcher’s life and the challenges she overcame through history and poetry.

“I get chills – good chills,” she said. “I’m glad I did. I look at it in disbelief that it’s actually there, that it’s actually in print, because I never thought I’d be able to do it.”

Sandie Fletcher’s new book, Feelings From Within Me, chronicles her life’s journey after surviving abuse and homelessness. It will be available from checkout at the Central Branch of the London Public Library on Monday 12 September. (Michelle Both/CBC)

“Somehow I decided I had to do this to help people,” she said.

She explains that she overcame emotions of pain, frustration and anger along the way. People who are homeless or victims of sexual assault need to know that they are not alone and that there are people who understand, she said.

She began writing poetry while traveling in Toronto. But without a safe place to store her books, her poems were often torn or stolen.

“While I was writing poems, I was able to eliminate some of the bad things that were happening around me, look within and write,” she said.

After sleeping four months in a shelter in London, she found a home – and has had a home in the city ever since.

It was then that she regained more confidence and began volunteering with 519Pursuit, a community outreach for people facing homelessness and poverty through a friendship-based approach.

She met Allison DeBlaire, co-founder of 519Pursuit, at a bus stop as she overheard her talking about their work. DeBlaire encouraged her to keep writing, she said.

“Homelessness is rarely a choice”

“She’s a very resilient person,” said DeBlaire, co-founder of 519Pursuit, who supported her through the book-writing process.

“It’s just amazing to hear her story and to be able to watch her today and say ‘you’re here, you did it and you did it yourself’,” she said. declared.

A group of four women are outside under a tree in front of sidewalk chalk that says
Sandie Fletcher (left) sits with a team of 519Pursuit volunteers, including Allison DeBlaire, Becky Breau and Dana Starling. (Submitted by 519Pursuit)

Fletcher’s story shines a light on the “bigger picture” of what homeless people face, she said.

“Homelessness is rarely a choice,” DeBlaire said. “It’s helped me, being someone who hasn’t faced homelessness, to understand life better and helped me change who I am to be a better friend when I’m in the community. “

She hopes others will also benefit from the book.

“Everyone should hear her story, hear what she overcame as someone who faced homelessness, and try to engage an empathetic response to others in our community.”

The book develops empathy and kindness

Anya Hleba, Collections Management Librarian at Central Branch London Public Library, described the book as personal, well-written and full of passion. Feelings inside of me will be available for viewing in the Contemporary London Authors section on the 2nd floor. It is also available for purchase on Amazon.

“There’s something for everyone to help us become better people in the community,” Hleba said.

Two women talk together while reading a book
Librarian Anya Hleba says Fletcher’s book will be celebrated and featured in the Contemporary London Author’s Collection on the second floor of the Central Branch of the London Public Library. (Michelle Both/CBC)

“Since the pandemic, more and more people find themselves in crisis and at risk in our communities. They need to know that they are not alone,” she said.

She believes that listening to diverse voices is part of what the community needs to move forward with empathy and kindness. Reading Fletcher’s book offers exactly that, Hleba said.


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