I recently heard a really sad story of a young homeless man. Kane Walker was recently found in cardiac arrest in Birmingham, and sadly died at the scene. He was feet away from a busy shopping centre, full of happy shoppers.
His death was reported by the BBC. As we watched the news, my heart sank. It was even worse when my hubby said he recognised him. We had passed him on our commute to and from work?
I wondered if he was one of the people I had helped over the years. I am ashamed to say, I am not sure. Some of my regulars I do recognise of course, but there are also some I see for the first and only time.
Then hubby reminded me who he was. I did know him. The last time I saw him was on a cold morning. He was walking out of the mailbox followed by security, with his sleeping bag crying. He was obviously looking for somewhere warm. I know the security team would have only been following orders, so I don’t blame them, but it is very sad. I was in a rush to get to work. If I had gone back and spoke to him, would that have made a difference. Probably it wouldn’t have changed his situation but he would have felt someone cared. I have often thought about him on that day, without knowing him! I wish I had now taken the time!
This poor man died, probably sad and lonely. Sleeping out every night in cold temperatures. Under nourished! Feeling the world had forgotten about him. In a recent video before his death, he admitted he had had enough of the life he was living.
At 31, Kane had lived on the streets for over 4 years I believe. From reports I have read, it all started when both his parents and nan died.
He reported that people had spat on him, kicked him and even urinated on him. I cannot begin to know how he felt. Poeple who did know him though said he was a lovely man, who could make you smile.
The number of homeless everywhere is increasing. I have to wonder why? What can we do to help these people.
One thing we can all do, which is free, is to have compassion for these people. Stop treating them like they are the scum of the earth, or worthless creatures. They are not. They are human beings who have fallen on hard times. This could happen to any of us.
They are sons or daughters of someone. They didn’t grow up dreaming of this life. Something has happened to cause it. Each one will have a different story to tell.
I know some turn to drugs, or maybe drugs are the cause of their homelessness, but they are still worth our help.
It may have come a bit too late for Kane, but there is compassion and love for him out there, unfortunately he may not have been aware of it. A special memorial service was conducted at a catholic church in his memory. Many people turned out to pray for him. I wish I had known about it as I would have liked to have gone.
A Just Giving site was set up to help pay for him to have a decent funeral. We may have failed him in life, but we don’t want to fail him in death. We want his soul to rest in peace.
I am appalled at how some people treat homeless people. I have even heard of someone who had his bedding and clothes stolen, when they had gone to get medication for epilepsy. What sort of person would do that. I felt for him when he told me this. This man was already broken, how do you think he felt to come back to find his things missing? Those warm items may be the only thing keeping them alive. Yes they may look untidy on the streets, but for them it is their home! It is all they have.
There will be many more people out there like Kane. You may not be able to offer them financial support, and to be honest cash isn’t the best thing to give them, as it can be spent on drugs and alcohol, but please, have some compassion for them. Say hello to them when you pass them. Help them to feel visible again. If you can afford it, offer to buy them a hot drink or a sandwich. Tesco do them from as little as £1.10. Even if you only bought 1 hot drink or sandwich a month, this would go a long way to help someone like Kane.
There are few regulars I see daily. There is one particular man who loves a hot cup of tea and a sandwich. He can’t eat chicken so I always try and get him a tuna one. The last time I saw him was over a week ago. He looked so thin, frail and just awful. I haven’t seen him since.
I’ve bought sandwiches in the hope of seeing him, but alas I haven’t. I’ve given them to other homeless people, but I am now really worried about him. In some ways, if he has been taken into hospital, it will be a good thing as he will have a nice warm bed and hot food. I fear though he could have gone the same way as Kane.
I will keep my eyes peeled for him, and pray he is somewhere safe. He is just 1 person I know of that hasn’t been seen for a while. There may be many more!
So next time you walk past a homeless person, think twice before you look the other way. It costs nothing to be kind.
Update. Just as this blog was published, I saw my man. I was on the way to the train so in a hurry so couldn’t stop to buy him anything. Thankfully I had made the decision to keep protein bars in my bag in case this happened! He was what looked like asleep so I slipped the food into his hands! He woke and thanked me. I’m so relieved to have seen him. Maybe next week I will get to buy him that cup of tea he loves and tuna sandwich.
In the meantime, I will keep the protein bars stocked up in my bag.