This morning our staff came face to face with the reality of homelessness. Look closely at the picture taken by one of our team and you can see a rough sleeper is sleeping along the sliding door.
It raises some questions I have pondered many times in the past. What should we do when we see people in the street? Shamefully, more often than not, we walk by, perhaps occasionally dropping a coin or food at the individuals feet. For those we see frequently we might exchange a word or two, while always slightly concerned the exchange might lead to a question of us we cannot answer, ‘can you help me?’.
We are regularly told by homeless charities not to give money, but what can we do? This morning's events highlights how unprepared we are to answer that question, as we seek to offer our staff advice on dealing with a new situation for them. My instincts are to offer a hot drink, food from our kitchen and use of our toilets and showers. When I then called the office I was pleased to hear they were also planning to offer a drink and food once our visitor woke up. They held back inviting them into the office as they (our team) felt slightly vulnerable. Shelter is one of only a few charities which offers these people a lifeline. Support and advice to get them somewhere safe and back into a place they can call home. This is where we can donate money in the knowledge that it will be used in the right way to help people like this chap in our doorway.
This experience comes a week after I joined BW Velo’s team, taking on the Raid Pyrenean, to raise funds for Shelter and brings home to me the purpose of our efforts, as I get ready for my training ride this weekend.
I’ll let you know the outcome.
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