A few months ago, I launched my Homeless Project to raise awareness of homelessness and tackle the stereotypes associated with it. I also wrote about the story of Tony. If you have not already, please have a read!
I am back with another story of a lovely man I met in the Charing Cross area too. His name is John. Just from the smile on his face, you could sense his positivity from across the road. Right away I knew he would be easy to approach and talk to. John was extremely welcoming and open to answering any questions my friends and I had. He told us that he had been homeless for a few months. He was originally from West Yorkshire but had to leave for safety reasons. The area was not safe and people were racially abusive towards him and his wife. The locals were not happy that he, an Irish man had wed a Jamaican woman. Previously, he was a carpenter, but he admitted to us that he had been involved in some robberies to enable him to take care of himself and his wife.
We asked him if he had ever received any support from the Government or any other organisation, to which he said none at all. He said he had tried to contact MPs, however, was always given excuses. MPs claim to have all the answers, but unfortunately, a lot of them do not have any at all. We also asked about some of the challenges he was facing. He told us of the negativity from members of the public towards him and his wife and how other homeless people could be quite territorial. He told us of an occasion where someone said to him “That’s my patch” and threw a sausage sandwich at him.
We also wanted to know more about his wife, as talking about her brought such a huge smile to his face. Her name was Debbie and he absolutely loved her. They met 16 years ago through a friend, and he knew instantly she was the one. Unfortunately, she was not present at the time. It would have been lovely to put a face to the person who made John so happy.
John gave us an insight into drug use within the homeless community. He told us that when people are first homeless, they are not addicted to drugs. However, some people end up taking drugs to escape their reality.
Imagine you have been living on the street for X months or years, constantly facing some sort of abuse from the public and feeling like there is no hope. Then someone offers you a substance that will bring you internal happiness for 5 minutes. 5 minutes is not a substantial amount of time, however, it may mean a lot more to you than anyone will understand. You take it. That one time turns into twice a week, then possibly 5 times a month and then leading to an addiction. I am not in support of this, however, I can understand why and how it happens. I believe that this is one of the causes of drug use within the homeless community. It is like a constant cycle, something I did not think about before. A common drug used is ‘Spice’. It is rumoured to contain horse tranquillizer and other chemicals and is rumoured to be 10 times stronger than weed.
The one thing I loved the most about John was his constant smile. He tried not to allow his current situation affect his mood and that is a good trait. Sometimes, we tend to get affected by something really small that does not even hold much value. John has been on the streets for months, barely having enough for himself and his wife yet we tend to complain about materialistic things. It is important to see the brighter side of things. It is easier said than done, but if John can do it, why can’t we?
Remember to always be grateful for the life you are living now. You will be surprised by how fortunate you really are. I hope you enjoyed reading this post and hopefully learnt something from John.