Some years ago when returning to London for a day, (having lived in Central London previously), I was quite moved by the number of homeless, yet again, and I also observed the worst notice I had ever seen, particularly aimed at these poor people. It was in an Office window. I returned about a week later with a camera to put that ‘on record’ but was relieved to see it had been removed.
Subsequently, I did a painting of the settings I had seen and called it ‘To our shame’. It is on one of my art websites. Though, one situation I saw was local to where I lived (an older person looking in a travel agents’ window at a holiday destination they probably knew they would never visit – ironically, I too have always wanted to go to the same place but for various reasons cannot, though I do concede that such a hope may be more accessible to myself), all other images were seen during that one day in London.
I would have loved to have provided the lady in question with her dream holiday. We must also remember not to offend the pride and dignity of others though.
Today I happened to come into London for an important meeting and once again, my heart was moved by the first homeless person I saw. Obviously later on I saw many.
Ironically he was sitting on a plinth upon which was a statue of a famous and charitable person (I do not wish to identify the location).
This homeless soul had his hand buried in his head in despair. It started off to be a cold and windy day.
I spoke to him and gave what monies I could but then we spent a good while chatting.
His story is private but sufficient to say I believed it. He had been to all the Government offices and usual Charities whose stance (which I also believed) was one of regret they could not help. He has a heart condition yet when in hospital he was discharged to sleep rough!!!!
The gentleman did not smell of drink and he did not have any alcohol bottles with him. Even if he had, then he still needed help.
The Salvation Army’s Founder, William Booth, saved those who he found in (or outside) of the gin palaces in his era.
This friend today told me his Christian name and I gave him mine.
He had not eaten for days so I asked him what he would like and was able to secure the same for him.
Sadly, I had to explain that I was not in a position to find him a warm and secure home where he could live and give him a new start in life, or I would.
He is 9 years younger than myself. Arthritis and other conditions (as well as his heart problems) are other issues he has to cope with.
His Christian name is one I will never forget as a childhood friend of mine had the same name.
Before I left him I apologised that I did not have the wherewithal to help him with the great issues regarding which only God can provide the answer to (through those he chose to help in that regard) but made a sincere promise to him that should God ever give me power and enough wealth then I would search for him.
My own dear Late Parents, who devoted their lives to helping others, always thanked God each evening (especially so in the winter), that they had a roof over their heads – albeit rented – and they would say that they felt worried how the poor homeless would survive each night.
My friend today is scared of being attacked during the night and is friendless, and I consider him a friend in Christ but he needs a friend to sit with, help him daily find a healthier and happier life.
I am going to keep the receipt for the food I purchased for him, not for any reasons of piety but so that he is ever in my thinking, despite the fact I do not really need a receipt, it is a further reminder which will only have significance to God, myself and my new friend.
Like many of you reading this, I have, over the years done the same for others who I encountered ‘sleeping rough’. God does not want us to be sanctimonious in our giving and I only share this with you now so that you can say a special prayer for this dear soul – known unto God.
I would also like to issue a challenge to all the political Parties, but obviously so to Jeremy Corbyn – The Man who represents ‘ordinary people’ and the newly declared representative of Socialism. Please prove it with this issue as a priority.
Can this Great Nation of ours start looking after the homeless with safe, clean accommodation (which is available in other Countries), such as sectioned areas under one form of housing or another (example featured as far back as 1980s ‘Around the world in 80 days’ TV series). It enabled small curtained areas, private radio and tiny TV based on room space. A change of basic clothing and shower facility. There was accesss to basic medical needs and also the opportunity to help people move on and into a better life.
For those with little sympathy, don’t forget, “there but for the grace of God go I!”
I myself have been close to homelessness at different times of my life and who knows the future.
Needless to say, today’s event has moved me but so far, at least, God doesn’t want me to be the one to deal with this on the scale required as He has not bestowed upon me the wherewithal, politically or financially.
I assured my friend that I would write an account of our meeting today as people should be reminded of this travesty as it is all wrong, however, I then reassured him that I would not use his name nor mention the location.
Despite all that has beset him he retains a spark of humour and a lovely smile. I shared the obvious comment that, as I was a Christian, I know that God sees his plight but was honest to add that I did not know why things like this had to be.
Let me leave you with one last thought.
Some years ago, when worrying again about this issue, I heard Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4.
I could hardly believe my ears when the person outlined that he wished for years that he could be put in charge of helping the homeless and he would do this or that to help them all, then he went on to say that it dawned on him, perhaps God has someone else in mind for that particular job.
Therefore, I wonder, is it you?
Photo (c) Hazel Speed – used by kind permision to Tuck Magazine