Today somebody who is homeless and begging on the streets hugged me so I would feel wanted and cared for…..I just don’t know what to say.
Marco is a funny warm hearted guy who is also homeless. We saw each other for the first time in quite a while today and we both beamed at each other and hugged. He said it was so good to see me. It was great to see him as well.
It’s been two years since I first met Marco. I was new to Manchester, knew no one. One day after a gym session I walked the streets of Manchester City Centre conducting my own experiment on one of my favourite subjects – happiness :).
I was seeing how many people, who were on their own, just walking about town, seemed actually happy. I discounted people in groups or on the phone were as many people are good at acting happy in company and social situations so it’s hard to tell what’s real or not. I was looking for signs of happiness in people who seem happy for no particular reason. People in a state of gratitude and appreciation for life maybe. If you’re from Manchester it probably won’t surprise you to know after an hour I’d spotted no one. Not one smiling face, hell of a lot of grumpy ones though.
That was until I was walking down the main strip in the northern quarter and opposite the marble beer house, and next to the car park sat a smiling man with a ginger beard and the sun on his face. He had a great smile to give and I just had to go over and say hello.
We talked for a bit, I told him about my experiment and our odd friendship started from there really. During the time I’ve known him I’ve seen him in every emotional and physical state – I’ve smiled and cried and genuinely not known what to do for the best. What or who will help or where to start.
Each time I see him it’s often unexpected and I’m on my way somewhere but I’m happy to see him and I try to do something. Sometimes a just smile and a hello, sometimes a big hug if I get the chance I chat and listen and share whatever time I have. Try to be a friendly face but that or the money isn’t really helping with anything in the long-term. Today made me realise it’s just not enough.
I’ve always wanted to have a chat with him over coffee and today I got the chance. He was excited to showme about Nexus Art Cafe which is a really interesting art and community focused not-for-profit. It’s a place he can go go and get a coffee for free due to the awesome system they have. Someone can buy a coffee for someone who’s struggling and then somene can pop in and get one for free. It’s a great system of kindness.
He wanted to show me this place as he thought it would be a great place for workshops and meetings for the communities I’m going to be working with. I really appreciated having his support with my dream project, the one I’ve left my job to pursue and am in the process of writing a business plan for. Thanks to him making me aware of the sace I’ll definitely look into using it in the future.
It was great to share a meal and get to know him more on a more personal level today. I could tell it meant a lot to us both to sand a sunny day catching upand telling stories. And you know how it ended with him wanting me to be ok and feel wanted. Such a nice gesture and I’ve been pretty emotional since.
So I guess his kindness and care despite the challenges of his current and ongoing situation got me thinking about a lot that’s not right in our society. Questioning myself now with things such as “am I doing enough to help?”. It’s made me appreciate how privileged I am to be in a position for pursuing my dream and have that as my main challenge.
It’s also left me wanting to return that kindness. I’m going to try to get my project to help people in his situation if possible, and ideally with his help. But in the meantime can anyone tell me what’s the best thing to do to actually help someone who is homeless? My knowledge on homelessness is very limited so any advice anyone can give or contacts they can share would be welcomed.
I shared this story as it’s my real life, it moved me and shaped my thoughts ever since and perhaps it will shape yours also and make you think.
Thanks again to the wonderful people I know and meet randomly. I truly value what you bring to my life and hopefully I get to bring something positive to yours in return.