This Christmas Eve, my boyfriend and I decided to celebrate our first day off work by heading over to Liverpool City Centre for a few drinks to get us into the Christmas spirit.
After visiting one bar and stopping by a few shops to pick up a few last minute bits, we passed some cash machines and saw a man sat on the floor by the bins. He did not ask for money, he barely even looked up but my partner gave him a few pound that he had spare in his pocket and told him to go and get a hot drink.
We walked away discussing how it must be dreadful to be out day and night in the cold weather and how nobody should have to live their life like that.
As we sat in the next bar we visited, conversation kept coming back to the people who were living on the streets. I think that we had both gotten into the “Christmas spirit” and were both truly saddened that this was real life, how people lived. Not just at Christmas but on a day to day basis whether it be freezing, hot, wet, damp, sunny – this was life for some people.
As we left the bar and were heading to get the bus home, and my boyfriend said that he would like to go back and give the man who we saw earlier a few extra pound. We went back to where we originally saw him but he had moved on. In his place were two new faces, a man and a woman with their dog. They were just sitting down for the night when we approached them and asked them if they knew where we could find the man from earlier; they said that they did not know.
We began chatting to the couple, my boyfriend was speaking to the man, and I was speaking to the lady. Over a cigarette, the lady was telling me how they were just settling down for the night and how she thought it was going to be a long one as it was so cold. I told her that I felt so awful that I was going home to a warm house while she was outside and that I did not know what difference it would make to her, but she was welcome to whatever was in my purse. As it happened, there was only around £5.40 in my purse but I took it and gave it to her anyway. Her face light up when she explained to me that now they did not have to sit on the street, they had enough to go and stay in one of the local hostels with their dog. I asked her would £5 really provide a bed for the night for the three of them and she told me that it would. My eyes filled up as she was talking to me and I smiled a little inside knowing that just a few pound that meant nothing to me could mean so much to somebody else. The lady thanked me, hugged me and we went on our way.
On the bus home my boyfriend began telling me that when he had been speaking to the man, he had told him how he used to have a good job and redundancy lead him to drink, then eventually drugs and before he knew it he had lost his home and he was on the streets. The lady he was with was in fact not his friend as we first thought, but his wife of fifteen years. It got me thinking of all of the insignificant things that we all moan about on a daily basis, what does it all really mean? Nothing. There is a couple, married for all of those years who are still together through thick and thin. That must be real love.
Whilst speaking with the couple, there was a charity in Liverpool mentioned that give the homeless people soup and warm drinks and distribute warm clothes to them. It got me thinking that I am going to make it my New Year’s Resolution to start helping others more and doing something that will make a difference to somebody else’s life. Just an hour or two volunteering of an evening with the charity would not only make me feel better, but be making a difference to local people.
The UK seem to spend so much time and money on foreign aid, when really, we only need to look at our own cities to see real poverty and devastation. After reading this article I was deeply saddened that people on our streets can be treated in this way. According to www.homeless.org.uk around 2400 people are thought to be sleeping rough in any one night. Should we not be doing more to help these people?
The "Don't Just Walk Past - Tell Us" campaign gives people the option of calling a 24-hour helpline number
0800 567 7699 or completing a form on the charity's website www.porchlight.org.uk/tellus.
For 2015, I pledge a few hours per week of my time to go and work with the rough sleepers of Liverpool and to spend some time talking to them and getting to know them. I will also be collecting warm clothing to take over to the charity for them.
This year, I will try to make a difference to somebody else life. No matter how small the gesture, a little sometimes means a lot as I learnt on Christmas Eve.