It’s raining. You’re busy and want to get home as soon as possible after a tiring day at work. As you make your way up the high street you spot a man with a sleeping bag sat in the rain with nowhere to go. He’s homeless. As you get closer you realise that he has seen you too, thoughts of how to avoid conversation cross your mind. You know he will ask if you could spare some change. It far too wet and you’re far too tired to stop to give a stranger some money. You plant you’re eyes firmly to the floor and watch your feet as you begin to approach him. He lives up to your expectations and asks for some spare change so he can get out of the rain. You ignore him and act as if you didn’t see nor hear a thing.
Sadly we have all done this. We put our selfish needs ahead of those who truly need our help.
As I have mentioned in my previous posts, I live near the city of Bath and work there too. As i make my way to work through the Georgian architecture I pass several people who are in need of a little help. It seems every 50 meters along the cities shops there is a homeless person looking to sell the Big Issue magazine. I often sit on a bench on my lunch break and I see the hard work that the sellers have to put in just to be noticed. The general public walk past as if the seller is a ghost stuck in a paradox in time. It does not make for good viewing and has caused me too loose my faith in humanity a little.
So, what can we do?
I am in no way telling you to take people into your homes but what I do think we could make a difference to their daily lives.
I recently stumbled across an inspiring short story about the citizens of Naples, Italy. Like me, they buy their regular coffee on their morning commute. But what they do next is amazing. They then buy a ‘suspended’ coffee. This is a coffee they pay for but do not take with them. Instead, the coffee shop saves it and will give it to a homeless person a little later. Such a small deed can provide somebody with a warm drink in the worst of weathers. Such a small deed can bring a smile to somebody’s face. Such a small deed can go such long way.
Another inspirational story is of an 82 year old retired barber. Every week he takes his clippers to the town park and gives the homeless a free shave and haircut. It just goes to show what we can do if we collectively donate a little bit of money or capitalise on our skills. It may not go towards buying a new home but it does make a difference. It brings a smile, warmth and a sense of friendship that so sadly is missing not only in Bath, but in cities and towns across the planet.
I am going to start asking independent coffee shops in my city to offer a discount price for customers who wish to buy a suspended coffee and with major coffee chains such as Starbucks and Costa keen on the idea, the future looks brights (as well as a little warmer) for the homeless.
Don’t forget to support a great cause and buy a copy of the Big Issue. If it’s the end of the month and money is a little tight, remember a smile costs nothing.
Please feel free to leave any comments on the schemes you want to implement in your city and in the words of a big issue seller near me “Help the homeless, not the helpless”