Every year around Christmas time, my mum and the rest of our family had out gifts to the homeless people in Liverpool town center. This year I decided to pass that tradition on and mentioned this idea to the mother of the children I work with. She loved the idea so much that she cried, and so we all gathered as much as we could to give to those who need it.
We collected as much as we could think of- scarves, hats, gloves, socks, jumpers, blankets, even spare duvets. My friend and I also baked gingerbread cookies to give out. The generous family that we work with emptied their cupboards to give chocolates, and even baby wipes for them to keep clean. It was so heartwarming to see the young children want to give so much of their own belongings away. We evened out everything we had and made up carrier bags that each had roughly one of each item in. And then we added our final special touch- books. We all went through our own book collections and picked out the ones we can do without. I think occupying the minds of people who have to simply sit and beg all day must be extremely relieving for them, so I really loved giving out the books.
The smiles, thanks, and conversations that came from doing this were priceless. We were able to give them a bag of gifts, cookies and then show them a selection of books so that they were able to have a look through them and choose which one they would prefer to read most. Each and every person was so grateful and kind to us, it really confirmed my feelings that all homeless people aren’t just ‘scum’. Watching the children grow more confident and begin to hand the homeless people things themselves and speak to them was lovely, and I truly think that their family will now also carry on this tradition for years to come.
You cannot know someone’s circumstances. My friend and I stayed out later than the family, and the very last man that we gave gifts to was special. His name is Tony, and he is genuinely one of the most positive people I have ever met. Tony worked for 25 years, had a normal life and contributed to society just like you and I. Until his son, mother, father and sister all died in a very short space of time. Tony struggled to deal with this much loss at once, and turned to drink and drugs to get through it. This is how he ended up homeless, but with so much time to think he has completely turned himself around and has been sober for a year now. He sat and spoke to us for about an hour and his outlook on life truly astounded me. ‘If I go to Church and give 10p, and the guy next to me gives £10, he is no better than me. We have both given everything we have. For that reason if someone puts a penny in this cup I would say thank you, and if you put 100 pounds in this cup I would say thank you. If you cut us open we all bleed the same. We are all just trying our best. There are more good people in this world than bad, and there’s no other choice than to focus on the good.’ Those were just some of the things he said that really touched me and have stayed with me.
He confirmed that even if you have nothing to give, giving your time and speaking to people like Tony is the best gift you can give. He appreciated being spoken to like an actual human; that we weren’t too scared or too disgusted to sit with him. I tried my absolute best to show him that I genuinely care about him and wish that I could do so much more. He appreciated us so much and said ‘I can’t thank you enough girls, Merry Christmas, go and have a great one.’ I will remember the smile on his face forever.
Please, try to remember that not all homeless people are bad, and it’s not all their fault. If you see any homeless people before Christmas, maybe say hello and see where it takes you. Treat them with kindness and respect- they are human too. And if you have anything to give- it is FREEZING out there. I was only outside for about two hours in woolly clothes and a coat and I was shaking and in pain. If you are throwing away any kind of warm clothes (or books) this year please please consider going out and giving it to those who really need it.
Sending hugs, Kiayah xxx