Friday, 5 November 2010

40) My Eighth Soup Run

5 November 2010

Standing on the street with the homeless people waiting for the Mustard Tree van to arrive, a prostitute walks up the street. She leaves nothing to the imagination, black boots, black coat, boobs. She looks likes she has so much confidence, everyone watching her walk past, she is yelling about something. She puts up a very strong exterior, I guess she has to.

As she walks past I hear two guys say, "she thinks we're coppers" I asked him what he meant. He said that the woman told them they looked too clean to be on the streets and that she thought they were undercover policemen. They didn't know wether to be offended or not.

There is a very loud man, he asks where I'm from. I tell him Belfast. He begins to copy my accent and repeats everything I say.

"Do you want a sandwich?"
"Do you want a sandwich?"

"We have tuna?"
"We have tuna?"

It gets annoying. I begin to ignore him.

I found out later he was on speed.

I said to a man, "would you like a sandwich?"
He mumbled, "you can keep your sandwiches"


I spoke to a young boy who I see every week. I always wanted to talk to him, but he keeps himself to himself. His name is Wilson.

I said "like from Castaway?" smiling

He said, "everyone says that." not smiling.

He is 17, he now lives in a houseshare with people he likes for the first time. I asked him how he pays for it. He said he no longer can receive benefits because he didn't prove he was looking for work. I asked him what he was good at. He said "nothing."

That made me sad.

I said "of course you are!!!" He said he didn't like studying, no one ever helped him. I asked if he liked doing anything practical. He said he used to do plumbing and labour work. I said, "well why not get back into that?" He said he would, but he doesn't want to work if he doesn't get paid.

It's difficult because I struggle to get work with GCSEs, A Levels, a Bachelors Degree, a Masters Degree and with work experience. I would still work for free.

I told Wilson he had to try. It's frustrating and it's tough times, but he's only 17! He can still do something about his situation. At 17 I was still a child at school, I couldn't do what Wilson does.

I asked him about going home to his parents. He said no and began to walk away. I knew he didn't want to talk about family life. I so want to know more.

Wilson is a really lovely boy and I just want to listen and help him find the right path.

He is so young, I just want to shake him.

I think next time I see him I might tell him about Mustard Tree's Freedom Project, where he could gain practical training, work experience and help him into employment. I think he just needs a little encouragement and confidence.

Another boy turned up, he is 23, same age as me. He was going to have to sleep rough that night because he was locked out of a friends house. It was so cold. All he had was a t-shirt and a thin jacket. We offered him a blanket, he said no thanks.

Wilson said, "mate take a blanket, it's freezing."

He said, "yeah, ok, maybe I will, I've slept rough before with less clothes on."

He didn't want to look stupid carrying a blanket. I told him to wrap up in the blanket, then put his coat over the top.

He smiled and said, "Yeah, I will look massive!"

He said he will probably find a skip somewhere to sleep. A volunteer told him that was a bad idea, as there have been some tragic accidents before with people sleeping in skips.

He said, he probably wont sleep actually, he will just walk around all night.

He and Wilson walked off together, I gave them both a quality street.

I spoke to Robbie in the car, he had been in hospital again. There is something wrong with his brain I think, he is in constant pain. He says he hopes not to wake up.

I listen.

I didn't really know what to say.

I offered him a slice of Swiss Roll.

He smiled.

Monday, 1 November 2010

39) Hardcover Softcover

This is a sample of the book printed in a hardcover and a softcover from I took the samples to Mustard Tree Charity to discuss the quality of the books and to see if they were happy with the final outcome. Paul Wenham, the chief executive was very happy with them and decided to order a large batch 100/200 of the softcover book.

The plan is to send out the softcover in time for Christmas as a gift to encourage people to donate during the festive season. Inside the book will be an invitation to invite those to a small book launch in January where I will have the opportunity to tell people about my experience of making the book. There we probably sell the hardback book and soup run entries as a fundraising event and hopefully some media interest would help in raising awareness of the issues of homelessness.