A Homelessness Saint?

Am I a saint?

A few months ago, I was told that I was a saint for doing the job I do.

My ego was definitely stroked for a second but I know with some certainty that the statement is incorrect.

I work in the homelessness sector and when talking to people, I normally hear one of two opposing comments:

  1. ‘The homeless should get off their backsides and get a job’
  2. ‘Poor, sad people. You are an incredible person and deserve a medal for doing such a difficult job’

Everyone is entitled to their opinions and free speech is something so precious but these statements are broad.

Let’s look at them:

  1. People lose their accommodation for many reasons — these are well reported. The answer isn’t to simply get a job. And please don’t say ‘homeless’ as if it is a group or organisation. They are individuals just like you and me.
  2. Those I support are not ‘poor people’. They are resilient, resourceful, brave, funny, intelligent, annoying, angry, sad etc. And I am not an incredible person, I am simply me and I feel very lucky to have a job which I enjoy. I don’t deserve a medal and I am certainly not a saint.

Thousands work with marginalised groups, wanting to make a difference not for the money but because they care. I am no different.

However, I also accept that I do this job because it makes me feel good about me. I am sure this is the same for others — maybe they need to be more honest with themselves.

This job grounds me, it reminds me that my petty problems are insignificant when compared to others and it allows me freedom. I don’t have to wear a business suit, I get to play silly games and sing along when the band plays.

But most of all, it allows me to be me. A vulnerable human being who has insecurities just like those I ‘support’. I don’t go to work and have to pretend. It is ok to cry when others are crying, it is ok to be angry when prejudices are being thrown around and it is ok to laugh when dressed as a gnome in the town centre pancake race.

So the next time someone says I am a saint. I will simply say ‘no, I am not, I am simply me’.