Lorna, one of our valued volunteers, wrote the following during a debate on food poverty on a website that we both use and I felt compelled to ask if I could share it here. Thankfully Lorna agreed, so here it is, our first guest post 🙂
Before I started helping in Wotsit’s soup kitchen I’d never spoken to a homeless person begging on the streets, selling big issues or took much notice of stories in the press. I’d always say no thanks or drop a few pieces of change into a hat but would never have considered having a conversation – I was led to believe by a variety of sources that money handed over would be spent on drugs, booze and cigarettes. Yep – I was as naive as they come. Still am about certain things.
Last week I sat down next to a young lad on Queen Anne street who was begging for money. I asked if he had a roof over his head at night, did he attend any soup kitchens and had he any friends he could stay with to be safe. We had a good and interesting conversation until a group of youngsters aged around 15/16 spat on him. They missed me by inches. Their language was unrepeatable and the word “druggie” was shouted at him. He was the same age as them. He said this was common most days. He’d never used drugs, but had considered it to forget things but wouldn’t know where to get money to buy it. He’d roughly make £2 a day – this was for a cup of tea and a scone. That’s all he had to eat every day. Before I left him I hugged him.
The guests at the soup kitchen each have a story to tell. They may have been your next door neighbours at some point. Most have trades, skills, ambitions, dreams, hopes, humour and live in reality. I enjoy listening to them and spending time with them. I think my life has more meaning to it than ever before because of these lovely chaps and chapettes. I apologise if this sounds soppy.