Saturday, 28 August 2010

35) My sixth soup run

Friday 27th August

I wasn't going to go on the soup run last night. I thought I should really do some dissertation writing instead.

However, I have begun to realise going on the soup run is as beneficial to me as it is to the people we serve. After spending a day sitting at a computer, to get outside in the evening to meet new people and do something practical is an enjoyable break. I find the whole experience exhilarating.

When we are preparing the food and gathering toiletries to hand out I often think, 'I need some toothpaste...' I have to remind myself, ''re a student...not homeless.'

Volunteering reminds me why I am doing the project. Without taking photographs, without recording people's stories, just listening and spending time with people means I am practicing what I preach. And I love it!

When we arrived they were about 60 people. It was a busy night and there was a great buzz!

I was handing out sandwiches. I find it funny how picky people are when they are getting free food.

"Can I have brown bread"
"Can I have egg instead of tuna, it's a bit lighter on the stomach."
"Can I have a chocolate bourbon biscuit?...What do you mean you don't have any...that's a disgrace"

I girl walked up to me and starred, I said:

"Would you like a sandwich?"
"Yeah, ham, cheese and egg."
"Sorry, you're only allowed one each."
" but I just arrived."

I gave her three.

she wins.

There was a tall, black, slim lady, probably in her 20s. I don't know why but she seemed so much older than me. Her voice, her stance, her confidence. She made me feel like a little girl. I think it's because when she speaks she doesn't smile.

Now that I think about it. Most people, when asking for a sandwich would smile as they say it. Or their tone of voice would go higher. Her's didn't.

I heard a tall camp man say, "Oh they are giving out bread rolls! I must get some bread rolls!"

I laughed.

As I was walking around with my bag of tuna sandwiches a man complimented my hair. I offered him a sandwich. He started talking about star signs. He says he has come across Libra's before...apparently I'm balanced. The man said he used to be a plumber, but he lost his driving license, and he can't carry all of his tools. He says he has two weeks to wash out all the toxins in his body to pass his blood test. I asked him how he was going to do that. He said drink water and eat protein. He said he was embarrassed to be eating from the soup run, because in reality he can afford a tin of beans, he just can't be bothered to cook them. I said there was nothing to be embarrassed about, it's a great place to meet new people. He agreed. He wanted to know what age I was. I told him to guess. He said 34.

He tried to rectify the situation and said 19. The damage was already done.

His friends came over and said, "Just get her number and you two can sort it out between yourselves."

I offered the friend a sandwich.

He left, after giving me an awkward kiss on both cheeks.

I met the man who had been on Britain's got Talent. He says he is going to be on it again this year. He said he had been with a girl who looked like me yesterday. Same height, same hair, but apparently she looked quite young, like a teenager.

A young guy was very restless waiting for 10:00pm. He would not stay still. He was waiting to get a train at 10:00 to Bolton for a house party, he was going to return the following afternoon. He really did live for a friday night! He said he was summoned to attend. His teeth were black.

An old man approached me. This conversation lasted for about 10 minutes.

He said, "Do you want me to save plastic bags and bring them next week for you?"
I replied, "Oh I think we're ok for plastic bags. But thank you."
He said, "I used to volunteer for cafe charity, and I always saved plastics bags. But I quit for private reasons and since then I havn't been saving my plastic bags. If I had of known, I would have saved my plastic bags for you."
Slightly confused.
I replied, "No really, don't worry about it, I think we have plenty of plastic bags."
He said, "They will be from asda, if that's ok?"
I replied, "Yes! Lovely, plastic bags from asda would be great, thank you very much."
He said, "No problem."

I have no idea how that conversation got turned around.

A young guy came over to me:

He said, "Do you remember me?"
I replied, "Of course I do, I met you at the day centre, I saw you in the car the other week and I saw you on the news!"

I asked him why he was on the news?
He said, "because I have been homeless for 14 months."

Granada Report : Kevin

Kevin is waiting for his pregnant girlfriend to get out of jail so they can get a flat together.

He had a fishing rod with him, he bought it for £20.

I saw him on my way home.

He jumped out in front of me for a laugh.

I thought I had died.

He is a really nice friendly guy.

You start to build friendships but you have to keep your distance for safety reasons.

A lady brought a dog with her. I love dogs. I wanted to give him food. My leaders said, "that's why she has brought the dog, to get more food."

It worked.

I see a prostitute storming off screaming about something. Apparently one of the prostitutes is a bully and took her money.

On the way back my leader told me sometimes women carry babies, uncovered, in the winter months to get more sympathy and food.

That's horrific.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

34) Just Thinking

I have started realising I don't really switch off from thinking about the people I meet on the streets. Especially at night when I close my window because it's too cold and I get into my bed and listen to the rain outside. I just wonder where they are and can't imagine how they must be feeling.

To earn a little money I do waitressing, often at big parties and events. I realised that last week I served both millionaires and homeless people. Two social groups at completely different ends of the spectrum! I was serving the lords and ladies of Yorkshire and the ladies who work the streets.

I noticed that my manner was completely the same during the two different situations, "Hello, would you like a cup of tea?" "Can I get you anything else?" I spoke with the same tone, the same smile and with the same attitude.

I noticed that although the two parties of people visually appeared very different, they acted the same. They were both drunk, they were both looking for drugs and they were both showing off.

Albeit, they were showing off about different things.

At the millionaire's birthday party:

"Say Richard, didn't I see you in a very nice car yesterday?"
"Yaa, Henry, I don't really know much about cars, but it gets me from A to B."
"Oh yaa." They laugh.

I roll my eyes as I hold the name plate for their table.

At the soup run on Friday night:

" I'm cold now, because I'm only wearing a vest, but I don't care, I have a tent and a double layered sleeping bag! It is so warm, I slept right through till 6:00pm the other day, because I was so warm! It stayed up during the floods and everything! I have got a little gas canister too, I have it made!"

I said, "Really? Where is it?"

He replied, "Mancunian Way."

I thought to myself, I'm heading to V festival next week ... I havn't got a tent.

From serving the different people I personally thought the homeless people had a bit more class.

They said please and thank you.

Friday, 13 August 2010

33) My Fifth Soup Run

Tonight was a really successful soup run!

Having spent all day stressing about jobs, accommodation, studying etc, the soup run really helps put things into perspective.

I arrived and one of the volunteers was now sporting a tag on his ankle. He told me he had been in jail for 9 months previously, drug related, and the tag came about from 'taking the rap for a mate' regarding theft. He could not come with us on the soup run as he now has a curfew to be home for 8:30pm.

When we arrived at Hoyle street I saw the two street working girls who I am usually quite scared of. They were actually really approachable this evening, one said, "ohh I wish I was wearing your hat, I'm so cold, earlier I was in shorts and a see through top."

It is a nice hat.

They were starving, and couldn't wait to eat. The girl Meg, was really concerned about Matty, who sits in the car. I have photographed his hand, giving the finger. She said he has had another stroke and he shouldn't be allowed to drive his car. She said he has to use his hands, to lift his leg to press the break. She explained that he does not have permission from the doctor to drive and he doesn't have a license. She wanted us somehow to get his car taken off him, but also mentioned without his car he couldn't get to the soup run to eat and would probably be arrested. She kept repeating "don't say I told ya. Please don't say I told ya!" Apparently Matty had smashed a bottle towards her and tried to knock her down, although she still thinks the world of him.

I asked where she was staying tonight and she shrugged her shoulders. She said she can stay at Matty's as long as she brings in £40 of crack. She said, "but I don't wanna work tonight."

It's such a shame.

Everyday people say that, "I don't wanna work." But the meaning can be so different.

There was a good crowd tonight, maybe 50 people?

There is a man I always see who I think looks like a proper homeless guy! Backpack, Hoodie, sleeping bag etc. If you were to draw a homeless person...

I have always wanted to talk to him, but he's pretty quiet and keeps himself to himself. Tonight he said, "can I have a bit of hot chocolate in my coffee?"

I said, "excuse me?"

He said, "it's really nice." I poured a bit in. He said, "wooow that's enough." I said," Oh sorry, I wouldn't want to ruin your coffee!" He laughed.

Another man backed him up! It is really nice you know... you should try it!

By this point I felt obliged.

For your information... It is very nice.

A couple arrived, the woman was obese and she and her partner were very drunk. The woman had a bruised face, all down one side, from her head to her chin. Her eye was badly swollen and everything was black. I have seen a bruise or a black eye before, but never the whole side of a face. She had been very badly beaten, repeatedly.

I later found out she was 3 months pregnant.

As I watched them sitting on the kerb, starring into space, struggling to sit up, I couldnt help but think of her unborn child. They will be sleeping rough tonight. For the sake of that baby I hope someone gives them accommodation fast.

A woman came storming up to me, "I was about to give up on you!" she shouted. "Me? what, why?" I asked. She yelled, "I was here at a quarter to 6!" I said, "We don't usually come till 7:30?" She said, "Well, I wasn't going to come back, but I'm out on a walk, so you're lucky!"

I wasn't sure how to feel? Confused, guilty, sorry ...... or lucky?

A woman called Alice arrived in tears. Her mouth was swollen like a snooker ball. She has an ulcer with an abscess on it. The pain is unbearable and i don't know what she is going to do about it. I hope she gets help.

I walked over to talk to Matty in his car. He is so smily and chatty its hard not to like him, but I know he's a bad egg. I asked him why he smashed a bottle at Meg and tried to knock her down. He said, "She pissed me off." I asked, would you knock me down if I annoyed you?" He said, "I would never physically hit a woman with my fist."

I told you he had morals.

I asked how she had upset him, he said, "just drugs n stuff." At this point the man sitting in the passenger seat said, "I knew I'd seen you before, at the day centre!" Matty tried to explain to him about my project about communicating with your hands. He didn't explain it very well, and the man now thinks Matty talks to his hands.

I didn't correct him :)

As I was talking to them a blond man turned up in a truck. He walked over to the tables, he didn't want food or a drink, he didn't speak, he was just observing. A police car then slowly pulled up. I watched Matty get very edgy. He focused on the police car and stayed totally still. I said, "you look a bit edgy there Matty..." He smiled and winked.

The police man said to our leader, "do you want me to move the gypsy on?" It turns out the man observing was a gypsy who was trying to offer homeless people jobs in construction. Apparently he recently employed people to work down south for two weeks and only paid them £20. That is why the police were following him.

The man in the passenger seat was looking at the police man's gun. He said, "I have a gun." I said "really? Is it on you?" He said no. I asked why he needed a gun, he said because his friends get shot in town. I said, "there was a murder near where I live recently." He said, "over by the Salvation Army?" I said yes! he said "I live there!"

As it was time to clear up Timmy arrived. Timmy is very creative minded. I said, "Where have you been Timmy, you're late!" He said he had been boxing in London, World Championship, he won, knock out, one punch.

I said "goodbye" as it was time to go,
he said, "wait, I'll give you my number"
I lied, "I've already got it"
He said, "not my new one"
I said, "I havn't got my phone on me"
He said, it's ok

he pulled from his pocket a tiny piece of paper, already prepared with his name and number.

he said, "give me a call"
I lied, "Ok"

Bless him.

He has written is name TiMmy

I won't call him, but I'm keeping the piece of paper :)

Thursday, 12 August 2010

32) Writing Words Down

I havn't been to the soup run or the day centre for about 2 weeks now. Life has got in the way and I have made a conscious effort to begin writing my dissertation to keep up with the theory side of the project.

This evening I went to talk to the security officers at the front desk in my student flat, about my own issues of not having any accommodation before the end of this degree.

We got onto talking about my project and they informed me of a few updates regarding events I have recently posted about.

At the end of post (31) I talked of a group of homeless people gathering outside my building, Billy said he was tired from not sleeping and the group was concerned with something, it was obvious something had happened. Well, it turns out that night there was a murder around the corner. I assume they know of people involved.

I was also informed the rapist who has been offending recently in Manchester, who was known at the day centre, has been caught.