How we got involved…
Fueled by the sickening, over-consumerism which our society is addicted to – at any time of year – our family decided to organise a donation campaign for the ‘less fortunate’ people in our local area last Christmas. We put up posters and asked for donations of all kinds with the intention to give to the homeless, womens refuge centers etc. Our children and thier friends decorated brown paper bags to put them in. We were blown away by the generous response we got and our conservatory was filled with donations. We were filled with joy!
Our first thought was the homeless/rough sleepers in our local area, especially as the weather was getting worse and they would benefit from the warm clothes, sleeping bags, tents etc we had. Through searching the internet for contacts I found a few people who gave me information about how and where to distribute our gifts. This led me to a very special group of volunteers on Facebook. The ‘Help the Homeless in Weymouth’ group. They go down to Weymouth twice a week to serve a hot dinner and hot pudding to any rough sleepers who turn up.
(There are also other volunteers, organisations & places for them to go and get advice/hot food – at certain times – in Weymouth… “Soul Food” = a cafe/support run by the prayer group near ASDA. “The Lantern Trust” = an independent registered charity to help vulnerable and marginalized people in the Weymouth & Portland area. “The Bus Shelter Dorset” = a registered charity. They offer rough sleepers with a local connection to the area somewhere safe to stay and support them. We have also recently found there is growing support in Dorchester via a FB group run by volunteers called “Help the Homeless Dorchetser”)
So for the first couple of weeks our whole family went down to distribute our donations to the rough sleepers and it was a real eye opener, for all of us. One man thanked us for bringing down our children to teach them that they are just ‘normal’ people like us.
Over the weeks, myself and my husband, talked to the volunteers and the rough sleepers and gathered more information about thier situations and needs. It is definately a learning curve – an essential, heartwarming one, sometimes hard to hear & believe.
They are always grateful for any help and very polite.
The Reality of the Situation…
There seems to be an unrealistic stigma and widespread attitude attached to being homeless. If we spent less time judging and more time trying to understand maybe we can help break this un-compassionate mind-set.
All over the world people are dying on the streets from illness and the cold while other ‘so-called’ people steal thier property, burn thier sleeping bags and beat them up. In some cases it is the authorities harrassing them.
THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE
How to Find Rough Sleepers..
I would suggest looking on social media and in your local area for charities, groups & organisations who already help out. If you can’t find any then maybe you could help set up a group, getting your inspiration from other places. You don’t need lots of time and money just a desire to help.
You can always see people on the streets or tucked away under bridges etc. if you look.
What They Need…
The one thing that springs to mind is a kind word, a smile, a conversation. Basically some kind of acknowledgement that they are recognised as another human being.
In addition to that here is a list of essential items you can donate –
Dog Food (if they have a faithful companion)
Everyday Toiletries – Toothpaste, Toothbrush, Deodorant, Shampoo, Shower Gel, Sanitary Items (there are women out there too) Pocket Tissues, Hairbrush
Essential Clothes – Warm Socks, Pants/Boxer Shorts, Hats, Scarves, Gloves, Warm Waterproof Coats, Jumpers, Leggings/Long Johns, Jeans, Trainers, Boots
Food & Drink – things that can be eaten without cooking, Biscuits, Cake, Sweets/Chocolate, Throat Lozenges, Juice. Hot Food or Drinks from a bakery when passing.
Sleeping Bags etc – Lightweight Sleeping Bags and Small Tents (2/3 man) Bungees (to tie all thier gear together) Rucksacks, Decent Plastic Bags
Other Idea’s – Warm Blankets, Thermos Flasks/Cups to take away Hot Drinks, any Small Camping Equipment you feel may be handy (no knives though) Hot Water Bottles.
REMEMBER THEY HAVE TO CARRY ALL THIER BELONGINGS ON THEM SO THEY CAN’T CARRY MUCH
How to Gather Donations…
That’s easy – you can post on social media asking for help, put up posters in your local area, ask family & friends. There are always people around wanting to help you need to just find them. Start with being aware of the problem and then spread compassion… the rest will follow.
Don’t forget to ask for ‘essential’ donations or you will end up with a house full of summer clothes in the winter or things you can’t shift quickly.
Remember We Are One Human Family..
We have to remind ourselves that we are all on this planet together as one big human family – ignore the ‘naughty one’s’ and stick with the lovely one’s. Each person in need has thier own story and set of circumstances so it is important to try not to judge…
ALWAYS SHOW COMPASSION AND LOVE