Even though my Masters is finished, I still want to volunteer with Mustard Tree.
I care about the people.
Because I hadn't been on the soup run for a few weeks I noticed how dark it was when we arrived. It just makes it that little bit scarier being in the dark and serving food from under a street lamp.
There was roughly 30 or 40 people there tonight. I noticed there was a lot of younger people this week, I was told some of the girls and boys were as young as 13 years old. I didn't really get a chance to speak to them.
I was giving out sandwiches to begin with. Ray turned up, the 69 year old who has been on X factor. I read about him last week in the MEN newspaper, he had got in trouble for graffiti in Salford. I was going to mention it to him as a bit of a joke, but I overheard him having a serious conversation with one of our volunteers. Ray has been having a tough time lately,a man who said he was from the welfare office asked him to get into his car, he was going to take him away and pay him if he took his clothes off. I think there was some sort of fight. Ray is very upset about it.
I don't really understand what happened, but it's sad.
Ray was not himself.
I was a bit hungry myself, and as everyone had had the hot food, I thought I'd have some myself :)
It was strange being on the opposite side of the table. It's not that easy taking food. I felt quite uncomfortable as I was served baked potato, beans and cheese. I said no to the salad.
I don't know if it's because I am a volunteer and I know it's not for me, or if it's a shame thing. But I do remember a man saying he felt embarrassed once taking food. And I can relate to that.
I then found I liked having the food when talking to people as I was doing exactly the same as them. I wasn't standing behind a table watching them eat, I was with them with beans dribbling down my face.
I heard a man say "I know you!"
It was Richard a man who features in my book. He's hands are photographed holding a mug and the photograph is titled 'Tower Block'. Richard is a lovely man who was very helpful with my project. I asked him how he was he said some days are better than others. I told him I had finally finished my book and that he was in it, and I told him all the nice things I said about him. Then I remembered the main point of my book was to encourage people to listen to those on the streets, so I asked Richard why some days were better than others? He said:
"Oh I'm going to sound really silly now"
"No you won't, go on"
"You know the bridge that goes over Mancunian Way?"
"I tried to jump off it on Tuesday night."
My heart sank.
"WHAT! Really? Richard! Why?"
"Just depressed n that."
"Richard are you serious! That's terrible! Surely nothing is that bad"
He looked to the floor and laughed.
"I'm just stressed, and money and I was diagnosed with TB."
"It's to do with the lungs."
"That's awful, did you go to the doctor?"
"Yeah I been in hospital for two weeks."
"I can't believe you did that! What happened? How were you feeling?"
"I was literally on the edge, I was ready, I wanted to."
"And what happened?"
"The police showed up, they asked me my name. I said "Computer says no" you know from Little Britain?
"Are you kidding me?"
"I did! They asked if I smoked, I said yes, the policeman gave me a fag. He was called Darren, he was alright.
They asked me if I had children, I said yes, a daughter. They asked me if i had a wife, I said no. Then I started swearing about women. Then they told me to calm down. I came down by myself. They told me to get in the car, I asked if I was in trouble they said no. In the car the police man told me to take my frustration out on a prostitute, to go down the street and take my anger out. (His words were more graphic)
I said, "WHAT!?!"
"And did you!?!"
"No but I got time yet."
I laughed. for some reason?
The police man showed Richard how fast he could drive and put the blue lights on. They were going to section him, but instead left him with some friends. Richard's daughter is 22, she lives in Salford, he sees her occasionally.
"Richard I remember you told me you wanted to get a job and work on the lorries."
"Yeah, I been stressing out about my passport, a woman robbed me."
"Are you going to do it again?"
"I don't know, depends if I get depressed."
"No Richard! You can't you just can't, you have to try"
"Ok, I'll try"
"Do you promise!"
"DO YOU PROMISE!"
"YES I promise."
I starred him out.
"Kevin tried to commit suicide too on the bridge this week."
"Didn't you Kevin?"
"What? oh yeah..."
Kevin is the young man who appeared in the Granada news report. He was with his girlfriend zara who is pregnant. I really like Kevin, he seems to look out for everyone.
A man turned up in a truck, he tried to take the 13 year old boy for work. One of the older guys stopped him. It's a con. We recorded the registration number.
There seemed to be a suspicious atmosphere. people were whispering and I kept hearing the word 'dead' people would rush off and then return.
I tried to listen in.
A guy I know called Nathan was there, his pupils were large and black. He took 6 sandwiches with him. I have never seen him like that before. It wasn't Nathan.
A 17 year old boy Ryan was there, he had fallen out with his mother and didn't want to go home. It's weird knowing his mum is probably worrying and I have just seen her son.
I'm glad I went tonight.
I learn a lot.