I have led a privileged life, I have never been homeless, indeed I’ve never been under threat of homelessness. Living in West Cumbria I’ve had little contact with anyone who’s homeless either as they tend to borrow a sofa for a night from a friend in this area rather than sleep in shop doorways and so are a hidden problem.
A colleague of mine, Eamon Rodgers, spent last night sleeping rough in Manchester City Centre to raise funds for the Booth Centre, looking at the weather here I’m hoping it wasn’t quite as wet in Manchester. I mentioned his sleep out to a colleague who took part in the Cumbria Community Foundation’s Big Sleep this year who commented jokingly that sleeping rough in Manchester was comparable to sleeping indoors when compared to a mountain top. Having seen a photo from last year showing the frost on the ground I know what they meant!
It struck me then that cold isn’t just about temperature, that sitting in the middle of a busy, prosperous city in the lead up to Xmas, being ignored by passers by who are worried that you’re a professional beggar & going home to a mansion tonight or who just feel plain awkward (something I admit to myself) so don’t smile or talk to you would feel colder than sleeping on a mountain top where there’s no-one to ignore you.
When I organised TEDxWhitehaven last year with my son, Luke, one of our speakers was Steve Houghton-Burnett and his talk got me thinking differently. As we now approach Black Friday , an American tradition I sincerely wish we hadn’t imported, his cure, Rainbow Saturday, is also approaching. To find out more watch the video:
If you live near Manchester why not have a sort out of your wardrobe & not only give someone warm clothing for winter but also choice, something many homeless people feel they lost a long time ago.
As I said earlier I tend to feel awkward when I visit the cities & see homeless people but from now on I’m going to give myself a shake, remember how privileged my life is & offer to buy them a hot drink & sandwich with a smile.