Challenge 1 seemed like an obvious choice. Everywhere you go in Bristol you see homeless people sat on the side of the streets and it’s so easy to become numb to it. January was really cold this year and once I started the challenge, I couldn’t help but see homelessness everywhere.
So I started looking into ways of helping out. The first thing was to get involved with the amazing guys at the Wild Goose Cafe. In their words: ‘The Wild Goose Drop-In Centre provides free hot meals, shower facilities, clothing and toiletries four days a week and an evening meal six nights a week for those in extreme poverty and need’.
I went along with some friends to help out and get involved. It was so interesting just to learn about people’s lives and the stories they had. The reasons they were homeless were so different and it really impacted me; it made me think about my life and just how privileged I really am.
Another friend told me about the Sleep Out. It’s a night where a bunch of people sleep out on the streets for a night in order to raise money for homeless charities in Bristol.
I signed up to the Sleep Out in this challenge week but the event wasn’t until later on. It was an amazing experience. I raised over £300 which may not seem a lot but it was a good start. The night was horrendously wet and pretty grim but it gave me a little bit of an idea of what its like to sleep on the streets. That being said, I still got to go home afterwards and have a nice hot shower and eat my food and know that the next night I would be in a warm bed.
These experiences led me to stop and talk and think about people with less. It’s impossible to give money to every person you see but its not impossible to give time. I made a friend named Will who sleeps under a bridge near my work. I would talk to him nearly every day and although we are different – we don’t like the same things and have different expectations in life – we are able to get along as equals and enjoy each others company for a bit each day.
The biggest lesson for me was to stop walking by, assuming all they want is money. Often, a chat is what a homeless person really wants – just someone to acknowledge that they are human and worth just the same as anyone else.
Going forward, some friends and I have decided to take one night a month in the Wild Goose Cafe and aim to continue with this, to do our small part for the homeless of this city.