After walking around town for hours yesterday I headed back to my car and decided to sit on a bench for a cigarette first (bad habit, I know, but it's my only vice lol). I'd bought Malachi (My Grandson) a Halloween balloon on a stick, which he predictably threw on the floor after about 2 minutes.
A frail looking homeless guy stopped and picked it up for him. He sat down beside me and we started chatting. He told me that his name was Andy and that he'd just been discharged from hospital. He'd been admitted the previous day suffering from a severe chest infection due to sleeping rough in a pop up tent under the pier. The nearest hospital is 26 miles away, and they'd made him walk, refused to help with transport.
When he got back, he found that his tent had been cut up and his meagre belongings stolen. All he had left was his sleeping bag, which he always carries with him. He'd been going around local charities trying to get another tent but had not had any luck. He told me that he'd lost his job and hadn't been able to pay the extortionate rent that his landlord (the salvation army, no less!) was charging for his flat, so he'd been evicted. He's now been sleeping rough for 8 weeks.
His story is by no means unique, this is happening to people every day. It hurts me to see so many people in this position in my little town, the beaches are littered with little tents…. It's heartbreaking. I gave him my cigarettes and the new £5 note I'd saved in the back of my purse. He tried to give it back, but I refused to take it (he called me bossy… Me? Never!) I so wish I could have done more. Any of us could find ourselves in Andy's position, so be kind… Give a few minutes of your time to chat, listen to their stories… Even if you can't give any practical help, you'd be amazed at how much an ear that's willing to listen is appreciated. We're all human, and have the right to be treated as such.
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