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House to home. The gift of hope...

House to home. The gift of hope...

04 Jul 12:00 by Claire Maclachlan

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4 accidental life lessons from my weekend

We were chatting in the office last week when David asked around if anyone wanted a spare bed.  No one did and the conversation moved on as they do.  Later that day I happened to see a post on Facebook by the Leamington Way Ahead Project.  A man had moved into private accommodation after 3 years living on the streets and has nothing in the way of possessions if anyone has any furniture or household items looking for a new home.  Very quickly David's bed was offered up for delivery in my horse trailer (!).  I didn't think much more of it (other than the comedy value that David was actually still sleeping on this bed as he broke the news to the boss aka wife that she needed to order a new one pronto).  So on Saturday I took on Coventry ring road with the trailer (2 weeks post trailer test pass thinking it would be good practice without my precious hairy beasts in the back).  I arrived at David's house a little traumatised, thankfully bagged myself a sausage sandwich, loaded up and we were on our way.

We arrived in Leamington to find an empty bedsit, aside from a sleeping bag, fridge and cooker. Grounding isn't the word.  It was clean and although he clearly had nothing to his name the man we met was polite, welcoming and very grateful.  His story is one that could happen to any of us.  A messy divorce, loses his wife, house, job and hits rock bottom.  3 years of living on the streets later and he has a space to call his own, and hope. He has a gentle way about him and is keen to work.

Driving back on Saturday you'd have to be dead on the inside to not be affected by what I initially thought of as a quick drop off, nice thing to do and be on my way for the rest of my weekend. 

  1. I am grateful I was born where I was
    Life is a bumpy journey for most of us at times.  What would our lives look like now if we had been born in another country or to other parents?  How much of us as individuals is nature vs nurture?
  2. I am so very grateful for my family and friends
    So many people don't have family or a support network to fall back on.
  3. I am going to make a conscious effort not to sweat the small stuff
    The silly, small things I moan about will not be remembered in 5 years, some even next week.  There is always someone worse off. The things I really need to worry about are far more serious than the ones I allow myself to get wrapped up in. 
  4. I can make a difference by even a smile
    How many times do you see people walking past homeless people and not even acknowledging their existence?  It doesn’t cost anything to smile and be kind.  Without a postcode how does anyone get access to benefits? Without somewhere to get clean how does anyone go to a job interview with a hope in hell? Without a phone how can a potential employer even call someone who has managed to get housing for them to even start work or find out about jobs? We can’t fix all of these things but we can make a difference to one person at a time, starting with a smile.

Since Saturday and my emotional rollercoaster reaction to dropping off a spare bed to a bare empty room, a Claire style rant later resulted in a status update on LinkedIn and Facebook.  I now have a handful of kind people who have offered things they were otherwise going to throw out, or have lying around not in use.  I am arranging for these pre loved items to find their way to the man I met on Saturday and another man moving into housing on Wednesday.  A local man, 61 and homeless for nearly 18 months.

On Saturday I fought the urge to empty my bank account and buy a houseful of things for a man I didn’t know.  Having pretty much done that before I learned the hard way that that impacts only one person, and it goes no further than that.  There are plenty more in the same situation and worse I can torture myself with and only so far my own bank account will go.  I am on a mission to channel it into something that will hopefully multiply; to be more useful than me emptying my bank account to help one man. 

So I am campaigning friends, family, clients and anyone who will listen to empty your garage, cull your cupboards and clutter and get in touch for me to find furniture, household items and (mostly male) clothing a new home where they are most needed.  Your small act of kindness might be the pick me up they need to get them up and running again.  I’ll pick up and deliver, or find someone that will.  The Leamington Way Ahead Project are putting me in touch with those recently housed and I’m hoping this is just the beginning.   Helping Hands in Leamington sadly lost their storage facility and have no where to store things so there are even more people in need than there were this time last year. 

I am on a mission, and looking for people to join me.  If it’s an hour to help me deliver one evening or if you have a half empty garage we could store some things in on their way to those that need it.  I’ll also be having a think on how we can connect with companies needing manual labour willing to give people a chance to get people desperate to stand on their own two feet earning and self-sufficient again.  Get in touch on claire@wallislynch.com with offers of time or things, ideas, or connections that might help.  Thank you. 

For more information on the Way Head Project based at the Salvation Army site in Leamington head to their website https://www.wayaheadproject.org.uk/