I looked out the window into the rain. It was whipping around fiercely outside, I guessed that there might be a storm later and I should get home as soon as possible and stay there. As the bus slowed to the next bus stop outside London Hilton Hotel I saw a homeless man. He pulled his soaking wet blue blanket over his shoulders. As he did so, his little blue collection pot blew away. It was evidently empty. He shot up to grab for it, and so did I. Instinctively I jolted up and immediately slumped back into my seat. Everything inside me wanted to help this man. I thought twice about getting off the bus to help him. But I had just spent my last spendable fifty pounds on stuff I thought I needed. Truth is, I already have leggings, long johns and thermal tops at home. They’re old and so I forced myself into believing I ‘needed’ new ones. Who was I kidding, I am greedy. I have a wardrobe breaking down because of the over load of clothes I have, and there’s me telling myself I ‘need’ more.
So what about the man, sat it the rain with a blanket which was wetter than the ground and nothing in his blue money pot?
I sat in frustration, mouthing to myself over and over ‘what can I do, what can I do?’ I had no money, no food and the clothes I just bought would not fit nor suit him. I drummed harder, and prayed ‘God what can I do, what can I do?’ Overalls came to mind, waterproof onesies. I wrote down overalls and thought to endeavour on a mission to help the homeless this winter.
I had recently been on a high with the thought of homeless people this winter; I thought about food cards we could offer them, so people wouldn’t have to give them money directly and when they do offer they know where there money is going. The stereotype is so bad. Nobody wants to give even 20p.
I turned to look out of the window, shaking my head in disappointment, and upset. A tear came to my eye. I could see another man chasing after that which he had probably been holding on to all day. His jacket was a little wet, but he was smiling. It was probably going to be the end of his shift soon. He had let go of the door accidentally, so it seemed, on a valuable customer. She, the customer, had three shopping bags in one hand and she had a large Burberry paper bag on her arm. As he grabbed he door and apologised as though it was the worst thing in the world, she put down her umbrella and squeezed herself and all her shopping bags in through the large doorway into Harvey Nichols.
I thought for a moment, how on earth could we be so disgusting? Me included with my Primark bag of shopping by my feet. We have become so utterly self-centred, we share nothing unless it’s on social media, we give nothing and we are sceptical of everything. Less than two minutes away is a man sat in the cold soaking wet, silently pleading for a bite to eat, warm and dry clothes and a roof over his head. Right in front of me was a woman wrapped in fur and leather, burdened by bags of shopping, full of things she wouldn’t wear twice because it’s not classy.
What happened to the days where everyone cared about their neighbours, where we offered help to people just because they looked lost? What is it that was so bad now no one so willing to give a hand. I mean, would it hurt to buy an extra sandwich for the homeless man who sits around the corner of your work, to pick up those old gloves you haven’t warn in weeks for the woman who sleeps in the park at the end of your road. And, to stop for a hot second to have a little bit of a chat with one of them, show some compassion, let them know that they’re not invisible. Or do you really believe that they decided to leave their mansion to go and sit in a park, while it’s raining with only a hoody on because they want to steal your one pound? Really? Every single one? I don’t think so.
by Chaneen Salako
For the ‘ AHomeless Winter ‘ campaign 2014.
For more info or to get involved please contact us on:
@ahomelesswinter (twitter), AHomeless Winter (facebook), and email@example.com, they could really use your help.