17 July 2017
We chatted to Etienne Duval, Borderline supporter, about his passion for the charity’s work and why he felt compelled to leave a gift in his Will.
Why did you first start supporting Borderline?
Being comfortably housed, I have long been aware of how lucky someone in my position is.
Borderline is the only charity specifically set up to support homeless Scots in London. I am part-Scottish, I also came to London as an outsider, and that helps me identify with people who have been a lot less fortunate than me.
Why are you so passionate about the work Borderline does?
I find Borderline to be both very important and very efficient. It is a small charity doing a vital job. Having been associated with it for some years now, I have seen for myself how it can change lives radically.
Borderline is able to do that both because it is connected to a network of other charities and organisations, and because of the quality of the people who work there. It is not easy helping people off the streets. People who are homeless are in deep crisis. Borderline’s outreach workers need patience, empathy, realism and dedication to offer effective support to people who often have been badly let down.
They are backed up by a very good team of caseworkers who ensure that a client has the best chance to settle into a new life. It doesn’t work every time. But when it does, the change is spectacular and humbling.
How has supporting the cause impacted your life?
It has given me an opportunity to do something concrete, and play a very small part in supporting people we all see every day in the streets, and whose desperate situation often makes us feel powerless to help.
What inspired you to leave a gift in your Will?
An awareness of my privileged position. But before I took that step, I needed to overcome a reluctance to think about my own mortality.
How did leaving a gift in your Will make you feel?
We are not supposed to think about our own feelings but, being honest, it gave me a certain sense of pride and relief at having overcome my original reluctance; I am certain my children will approve. So knowing I would be helping others into the future felt right, as well as useful.
How do you think your gift will make a difference in the future?
I am confident that my gift will help vulnerable and isolated Scots in London after me. I know the Borderline team will make the good decisions at the time about how it is best used. I trust their judgement and professionalism.
How did you find the process of including a gift in your Will?
Technically very straightforward, emotionally a little less so. There is a natural tendency to put off writing a Will. Then there’s an instinct to think mainly about your family, about other people who are very close to you.
But when you engage with people on the streets, and get to know people who have managed, after huge efforts, to get themselves off the streets, you get a powerful sense of shared humanity. A sense of belonging to a larger family, if you like.
What would you say to someone who is considering leaving a gift in their Will?
To paraphrase a well-known strap-line: “Simply do it!”
Etienne Duval, Borderline supporter
Etienne Duval, right, with Borderline volunteer Willie Donnelly. Picture: Mischa Frankl-Duval