When I go out on a Wednesday to help the homeless you never know what to expect, who you will encounter and what donations you will be taking. People in Reading are very generous and that Piaroo’s Wish Helping the Homeless in Reading has a big following of warm hearted donators, who are becoming great friends. It is hard to comprehend especially when you go out and all you see is shoppers going about their business and not even acknowledging the people sat on a cold wet ground wearing layers of clothing begging.
If you get the chance to speak to someone on the streets the majority of them will tell you that all they want is a glimmer of a smile, the words hello said, just so they know they are not forgotten.
Aileen and I met at our usual meeting point the Metro Bank. The sun was shining and the day looked like it was going to be a success. It some ways it was but for me it wasn’t. We had run out of hot food and sandwiches by 4.00pm. Met Mary and didn’t have any food to give her or her son but managed some food for her partner. We went home with empty trollies which would normally be fabulous but not today.
Both Aileen and I think very similarly and when we met Craig by the train station he told us it was his birthday and was going to be 32. We asked him what he was going to do and he said that Leon was going to meet up with him. We asked him if he could have anything what would it be and his reply was a pair of trainers. As we both looked down we saw that his trainers were hanging by a thread literally. Instantly we both knew what we had to do. So we posted the issue on our Facebook page, hoping someone would reply. There was no way we were going to leave town today without getting him a pair of trainers.
We managed to get him some trainers and he was extremely delighted. Craig is one of those rare people who you just want to help with every fibre of your being. It helps that he is polite and honest and respectful.
We headed to Market Place to see if Andy was there and had a sit down so I could replenish my batteries with a glug of Lucozade, we saw Carol and asked her if she wanted a jacket potato with cheese and of course she said yes. We asked why we hadn’t seen her for a few weeks and she told us she had been unwell. Not surprising when you consider the weather recently and staying outside begging, we it so often and we can’t do anything to help. The gentleman she was with was so thankful for the sandwich and the jacket potato they shared it made me emotional. We give so little but the gratitude they respond with can be overwhelming. That one moment made me crumble inside I didn’t want Aileen to see me but I didn’t have a choice.
I feel so humbled when I go out and chat to the guys. They are polite and always say thank you and if they have already eaten they say and always tell us to give it to someone else. They never ask for anything apart from the basics such as deodorant toothpaste footwear and even then we have to squeeze a reply.
I know one thing and that is anyone can become homeless, it could be you we help next week!!