A while ago the other Andy put up a post about people watching (apparently it’s like a cool version of train spotting?!). Annoyingly the other day I found myself doing the same thing. It wasn’t so much people watching but watching an event unfold. I was waiting for a bus one evening a few weeks ago and saw a man walking up and down the street outside a well known pizza takeaway kind of place. It soon became apparent that this man was homeless, that was the first thing I heard him say. He was after some food to eat and he wanted something hot, I can’t blame him for that, it was a fairly late evening and it was freezing.
I watched for a while as he would approach people walking past, and ask if they were going to the pizza shop as he had a buy one get one free voucher he was happy to share but he only had half the money. Some people would walk past and ignore him, some saw him a little way back while he was talking to someone else and would cross the street and some would shout at him.
After a little while he came up to me and asked if I could give him some money, feeling really bad that I couldn’t help him out I had to explain that I didn’t have any spare money on me. But I did chat with him and tried to understand his situation more. I’ll be honest unless you go through the same thing you can never understand what it’s like to be homeless but hearing his story helped me see a bit of the bigger picture. He’d been homeless for over 15 years, since he was a teenager.
This car park was where he’d been sleeping and where he’d be sleeping that night. He said it made him sad that he had to break into somewhere just to be able to sleep somewhere dry. It might be drier than outside but it’s still freezing cold.
I kept talking to him and listening to his story until someone else came by, and he went off to see if they wanted to split the cost of a pizza.
It’s people like this man, that inspire in the work I do for Exeter YMCA and the church sofa lads this year are taking part in Sleepeasy 2012 to raise money for the work of Exeter YMCA with the homeless.