Let’s show each other some compassion.
Yesterday Gary and I were walking back to the car, when he said:
“That’s sad, there’s a homeless guy over there and he’s crying.”
“Let’s go over and talk to him.”
We spoke to him and this is his story.
His name is William and he was brought up in care because his parents died when he was 11, He has been on the streets for around 8 months, and couldn’t sign on to job seekers because he had no ID.. he has just recently secured himself a passport, and this now means he can actively look for jobs, and sign on. He had been looking but as he had no clean clothes, he knew he was getting knocked back because of the way he looked.
The reason he is currently on the streets is because his ex and he had a baby, who had died of cot death, and although there was nothing either of them could have done, to prevent it from happening, they blamed each other constantly and got into many fights concluding in her throwing him out.
He has no family, except for a sister; who is not biologically his sister. She tries to support him but due to having 6 young children of her own, he doesn’t want to get under her feet, also the sister has a child the same age as his little baby that passed away. And he finds it increasingly difficult to be around them at the moment.
He asks for money because the local homeless shelter was closed and he needed money to catch a train to another homeless shelter for a place to sleep for the night. He had previously chanced his luck and got caught by the ticket conductor and was fined £50 on the spot.
William is only 24.
He is not a drinker or takes drugs and this was verified by the shop owner a few doors down.
Gary and I gave William some money, and even went to the train station to enquire how much a ticket would cost, unfortunately it was far more than William had first told us, so we reluctantly decided not to purchase him a ticket.
When we went back to see him, he was walking towards us., in the direction of the town centre.
“Oh, you came back, I thought you weren’t coming back…”
We explained that we enquired about a ticket but they were far more expensive than he ad said, he was apologetic and said that he didn’t think we would check, and he was sorry because he knew just how expensive the tickets really were.
Throughout our entire conversation, you could really tell William was really down, and out on his luck. But he was also extremely grateful to us for stopping not only to chat, but that we gave him some money, so he could feed himself and have a place to sleep for the night.
Logistically he still didn’t have enough money to cover a train fare, so we suggested him explaining his situation to the bus driver to see if he would possibly drop him near to the shelter a few towns over. Which he agreed he would do. He hugged us both and we parted ways.
Gary and I truly felt for William, and his desperate circumstances, and we said we would keep an eye out for him, and if we saw him again we would take him out for lunch.
On our way to the train station we encountered yet another homeless guy who was asking for money, and I could hear the desperation in his voice and it made my heart break. Gary apologised and said we didn’t have any money.
William, and this other man have been playing upon my mind since our encounter, I felt awful that Gary and I were going out of our way to help one homeless person, and yet did nothing for another.
I’ve cried over this situation, because I truly feel helpless.
I could have been them.
If I didn’t have friends who allowed me to sofa surf while I tried my best to look for accommodation, It could have been me desperate for a roof over my head, wondering if I too was going to have to sleep rough.
Gary and I had a long discussion about it and he was the one that not only said I should write this blog post, but made me see that I can’t help everyone.
As we passed the homeless guy twice, not one other person around us stopped to talk to him and/or offer him any money.
Gary reminded me that i can’t carry the world on my shoulders and it’s not just MY responsibility to stop and speak to a homeless person.
My depression has come back and Gary doesn’t want me to get worse because I feel guilty and useless being unable to help people.
We have since come up with a solution, that I feel I am helping, but without putting myself out of pocket, or spiralling further deeper into depression.
On Monday I am going to contact my local homeless shelter / soup kitchen and see if I can volunteer my time, even if that is just being a friendly ear for people to talk to, or give homeless people further information of where they can go for support / services.
I know that we get caught up in our daily lives, our struggles, our stresses and our plight, but I would urge you to take the time out to talk to a homeless person, and even give them some change.
You don’t know the difference it would make to that person in question.
I would like to point out that I am not naive not everyone is in a similar situation to William, some people have put themselves there, with their lack of good financial management, through drink/ drug abuse.
But, we are still all human, and I do believe that we should strive to help our citizens get back on their feet.
Drug/ drink abuse should be supported through rehab programs. No matter how angry I get at people for their ill choices, poor management, and a drain on the NHS, I still believe everyone deserves that second chance to try and put their lives right.
Please, show some compassion. It might make all the difference.