I’m Trying To Be A Better Person

man person men old
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Sometimes I encounter and consequently ‘suffer’ from first world problems. These can be anything from a late train, an unexplained rattling in the car when it reaches 80 miles an hour, or running out of truffle oil; (no of course I don’t really keep truffle oil, I’m just exaggerating to make a point), and then yes, I have a little whinge.

My husband, known as The Colonel, simply looks at me over his glasses and raises an eyebrow. This usually renders me suitably chastised and I usually give a snort, tell him to ‘sod off’ in my typically eloquent manner and reduce my whinge to a “mutter-with-attitude”.

A fellow blogger (A Fractured Faith) wrote recently about the homeless and it rather spurred me on to do something useful and to press the pause button on this shoddy behaviour. So I hunted around the cupboard upstairs and emerged with:

. An old sleeping bag

. A military windproof, waterproof, everything-proof coat

. The softest, warmest blanket that I gave to my late mother and have been struggling to throw out

. Some toiletries in rather natty little airline bags (apologies for the revolting word …. Toiletries, Soiled, Moist and Toilet make me squirm. It’s the ‘oi’ thing. However, also Gusset and Lubrication. Enough said.)

Having lugged these items down to both the train station and High Street twice in the search for someone ‘in need’, and returning on my bicycle still fully laden, I was in danger of losing my inner Samaritan. But, third time lucky and I found a lovely chap with a dog who despite having everything that he needed, directed me to a gentleman who apparently did.

By now it was late afternoon, the sun had dipped beneath the trees and it was cold. Terribly cold. It was just starting to drizzle and the wind was picking up when I saw him. A narrow, hunched dark shape with the sleeves of his thin jacket pulled over his hands. He was shaking; not just his arms, but his entire body. He looked up at me and I smiled. Slowly and gently we began to chat. A thin, cold scrawny man with nothing to his name. No address, money, belongings or education.

His past was something of a horror story and the fact that he was still alive was either a miracle or testament to his courage.

I came away feeling humbled, ashamed and also angry at ‘the system’. He was so grateful for the pathetic bits and bobs that I gave him and so willing to talk to me, a silly middle aged, middle class woman with an expensive haircut and a propensity to buy expensive Christmas baubles. In the end, I felt grateful to this gentleman.

I am trying to help him further but suffice to say, it’s a minefield out there with a system with no money and too many people needing help. I shall continue but the longer I take, the colder the weather is getting.

I came home feeling not sanctimonious, pious or as though I had morphed into Mother Theresa, but just plain humbled.

Since then I have been making a conscious effort to (attempt to) restrain my irritations at unimportant first world issues and be grateful for what I have. Although having just re-read that I realise that I now sound like a prize knob so I’ll perhaps retract it, but it does make one think…

And finally, when I told my son about this and the horrors of being homeless (trying to educate my 20 year old son is I realise locking the stable door well and truly after the horse has bolted) he calmly informed me that the sleeping bag I had just given away was not my old one, but in fact belonged to him. Bugger. Thankfully he has a far nicer nature than me and just patted my shoulder. I think he muttered something about the onset of dementia but by then I was back in the cupboard again trying to work out if the military jacket I’d just handed out was not my other sons old CCF one, but in fact belonged to the Colonel … God I’m an arse.

Katie xx

Are there many homeless people in your neighbourhood?

How does your council/state/ country help them?

46 thoughts on “I’m Trying To Be A Better Person”

  1. I live in a town of approx 33,000 people. We have one small shelter for families (i.e. women and kids no men) and then the Salvation Army which will allow one 30 day stay in 12 months. It is not enough. In winter we frequently still have homeless living outside somewhere. My church offers a small food bank and gives out coats and sleeping bags and blankets. There is a city 10 times our size 30 miles away and they have more resources but few in our town are willing to relocate even if we give them a ride. It is a sad and perplexing problem of how to help with more and more falling through the cracks of the system and due to the economy. I spoke with a lady tonight at the food bank. She expects to be homeless in 3 months when her apartment building is sold. She pays $350 of her $1,000 take home pay to rent. But all other places near by are $500 and up and she just can’t live on that with paying other basic needs like car insurance to get to work, repairs, phone, utilities.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s an impossible situation isn’t it. Thanks so much for telling me about your town. This fellow, without having an address can’t get the medication he needs, or a job or anything … Whatever will happen to your lady??

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  2. What a kind hearted woman you are, now if everyone did what you did maybe we wouldn’t have as much of a problem. You epitomise the real spirit of Christmas and don’t say otherwise. Makes me sad to think that so many people have so little but this post was heartwarming. xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aww thank you! In truth, I am usually far more interested in my own little troubles … but I suspect that’s common. I’m wondering how on earth I can make a difference, but it’s a worldwide problem … it’s huge. Thanks so much for reading this Miriam. Xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a lovely thing to have done; I’m sure you made a real difference to that guy, as much by talking to him as anything else! So many people walk past the homeless, fearful for some reason, that they must feel invisible at times and, most certainly forgotten.
    I’ve seen poverty in many places in the world but the thing that sickened me most was in Rome a couple of years ago. I spent a few hours in Vatican city, admiring the architecture, wondering about the Salvatore Ferragamo shop with it’s E300 scarves and taking in the general opulence of one of the wealthiest places on earth.
    On the way out, maybe 5 metres outside the Vatican’s walls I saw an elderly woman sitting on the pavement. She was obviously freezing (this was December), filthy dirty, one of her legs was twisted (possibly broken) and she had the air of someone utterly defeated. I gave her some money and she thanked me effusively, even kissing my hand and I felt completely humbled and incredibly sad. I saw many people like her after that and I wondered how a Church, well, let’s face it, Church headquarters could have so many needy people on their doorstep and seemingly do nothing.

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    1. Oh how kind you were to stop and help her. It’s the cold weather that’s the absolute killer isn’t it? There’s so much wealth and so much poverty everywhere. I was in Manila earlier this year where whole families live on the streets. I’m probably just an idealist but there’s a bit of Robin Hood in me that wants to help (not that I’ll be stealing from the rich, but you get what I mean!). Thanks so much for reading and telling me about your lady in Rome. Katie x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I think you’re right Katie; when you’re wrapped up warm and you see someone you know will be out on the street that night trying to find somewhere to sleep it really brings it home!
        Thanks for sharing your story, the world needs more people like you :O) x

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  4. As always your expressions at the beginning make me laugh but puttin that aside bless you for helping the poor man. I used to stop and talk to young people living on the street and a couple of them I gave money to call home, which they did not and were still on the street and looked ashamed when they saw me.

    Here nothing is done to help the poor some kind people give them packs of tissues to sell on the street so they earn some money and then they can buy more packs of tissues to sell. We have a community of 200 gypsies the men stay at home whilst women and girls are a pest, they say to the tourists they are from Syria, yet they cannot speak Arabic, they harrass everyone for money and even wear padding to look pregnant or carry very well fed babies. They have been doing this for at least 7 years. I was traveling on local transport and one came to travel her padding was slipping, she was surreptitiously trying to pull it back up. I could not stop laughing and it slipped down again after she got off the vehicle. They earn a lot of money doing this from tourists. So sad when there are genuine people who really need help. Then there is a man who has been carrying a hospital drip bag and tube with red substance in it, this has been going on for a couple of years. Some people get their children to act sick to get money too. I am not sure but I believe they can get some kind of help from the Mosques, when the Syrian refugees came, I am sure they were getting some kind of aide, but most have found work now.

    It is heartbreaking to see people out on the streets at any time of the year. I hope you did not give hubby’s coat away but your heart was in the right place.

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    1. Yes, I’ve heard tales about people making their circumstances look worse than they actually are and over here, we are often told not to give money as so many will spend it on drink and drugs, and instead give them food or a hot drink. It’s very hard to know what’s best. Glasgow was very bad for the drug and alcohol problems and of course it’s bitterly cold up there. I’ve not mentioned the coat … I think that makes me the most terrible coward, but maybe I’ll wait until he’s had a Christmas present and a glass of wine! Thanks so much for reading and commenting … I love hearing about where you live, it always sounds so much more interesting than here.

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  5. Good for you, Katie. Our council is one of those who thinks they might ‘solve’ the problem of rough sleepers by fining them., in order to force them onto another council’s patch. I ask you!

    I think the best way to help is through ‘Crisis’ (we always sponsor a place at their Christmas events) – they have a good organisation and many willing volunteers.

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  6. In my city the homeless population tends to be ghettoized into a couple of neighbourhoods. In some of my previous jobs as a nurse I’ve worked quite a bit with homeless people, and I think it’s helpful to have direct contact like you’ve had to humanize a group of people that tend to be so marginalized. People on disability or welfare in my province get a $375 CAD per month rent allowance, which is probably around £200. That’s not enough for market rent, and there’s nowhere near enough social housing.

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  7. Too sad to write about it here but last nights blog is about a homeless man I helped and became friends with. Thank you for reaching out it really can make a difference. For many they feel forgotten and invisible and you left that man feeling seen and that is huge. Xox

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My council actually has on its website that there are no shelters or overnight places for the homeless to stay.

    There is one and apparently they are in an ongoing battle with the council regarding the fact that they will not be recommended. Now, not to tar everyone with the same brush, who live in my county, I am guessing a lot of this to do with the fact its a very affluent area and having homeless people will bring the area” down”.

    With Brexit it is only going to get worse and the sooner the general public get it out of their heads that everyone who is homeless is there because of addiction or mental health problems and the fact that a lot of families are one paycheck away from being homeless, or maybe read up on the fact that under 21’s don’t get any help with being housed. Or maybe the fact that the homeless figures that get shown are actually way under what it should be, because they don’t include people who manage to sofa surf the better.

    Sorry I ranted

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved your rant! And it’s a good thing to really know what’s going on in different parts of the country. This is like Mick Canning above said about councils trying to get rid of people. Everyone seems to have their own agenda. It’s all too awful … Thanks so much for writing, it’s really useful to find out what’s going on in different parts of the country. I’m in the borough of Wandsworth, so having both a pretty affluent part and (according to the film Love Actually) a dodgy end too. So huge variations on what goes on. Thanks again. Katie x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am in Surrey, so sort of near you, it annoys me that the homeless are swept under the carpet, but also on that, the council had to house me, so I was technically homeless for 2 months. I say technically because while I had a roof over my head, it is what the council classed me, as it was temp accomadation which is again another way to fudge figures. The main reason they had to house me was because of my son, not me, so if you do end up in a position, which lots of people are, you live in an expensive part of the country, your deposit is tied up in the place you are living in and the landlord gives you notice, if you have been living paycheck to paycheck trying to save upwards of £2k is going to be impossible to do

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  9. Katie, you are wonderful!

    Sadly the number of homeless in shop doorways in Lancaster has increased hugely in the last couple of years. When I go into the city to do my Christmas shopping tomorrow I will remember your example and do likewise.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for sharing, and for being so persistent in your attempt at kindness. In my corner of the world, we have a major homeless issue, and the local government/city council isn’t doing enough. Of course, with both the house and rent prices in the city, it’s nearly impossible to live on your own at minimum wage.

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  11. What a moving story! I am touched by your faith in action, even though you knew it was stepping out of your comfort zone. That man would have felt so blessed by the fact that you didn’t just drop the goods and run, but took time to bend down to his level, look him in the eye, talk to him and most importantly, listen. I am also humbled by this tale and I’m sure it will stir many of us to follow your example to do something sacrificial for somebody else…even if it means giving away hubby’s favourtie jacket. xx

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I’ve missed a fair few of yours and at the beginning of yesterday, reading yours was on the top of my list, then I received a message from you on my most recent post and thought, let me go on right now and catch up. I think I’ve got 3 more of yours to read and I’m so looking forward to them 🙂

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