I was in Oxford on Friday, the day before new years eve. I was driving around with my best friend from school days and we were talking about poverty and homelessness in general. Then we had an idea – why don’t we find someone homeless and feed them right now! It took us about 10 minutes to find a young girl sat on her haunches with a paper cup in front of her. I pulled down the car window and asked her if she was homeless, to which she replied ‘yes’. I asked her if she wanted some food and again, she replied in the affirmative. ‘What would you like to eat’, I asked her. She said, “anything, I haven’t eaten for days”. I looked at my friend and we sped of to the nearest 24 store (it was 11pm). My friend went in and bought £10.00 worth of fresh food – sandwiches, drinks, snacks, fruit. We got back to her laden with 2 shopping bags and she was just totally overwhelmed.
I asked her about her plans for the night – she was just trying to get enough money to pay for a bed-n-breakfast. So although we’d solved her food problem, we were unable to solve her accomodation issue – which bothered me.
We spoke for a while – and it turned out she was exactly the same age as us – 36, and we had some people in common. How she ended up on the street I don’t know. We did not pry and did not ask questions. We are not there to judge.
We just wanted to feed a hungry stomach. Before we left some of her friends turned up – also homeless. So we think she may have shared her food with them also. So three hungry stomachs filled.
This took no longer than 45 minutes, and it did make a difference. I asked my friend to look out for her and help her again if he could. He has pledged to feed someone hungry in Oxford once a week.
Its not about just feeding a stomach. You talk to them, offer a smile, a kind word – and this kindles hope and hopefully one day a better life. Also, its not about making myself feel good. How could I feel good after giving her food, but still knowing that she had another 2/3 hours to save money for her accomodation? We can only do so much, but we start with small steps. Feeding them gives themk energy and hope that will hopefully get them through comfortably right now.