Wednesday, July 04, 2018

The only act of kindness in three months ..........

I was talking to a young man aged 22.  

He’s been living in the YMCA for four weeks,
previously he was living alone,
homeless, for three months.

For the whole of that time he was alone and slept in a rubbish chute in a tower block.  
It was the warmest place for him, 
that’s where he felt comfortable, 
that’s where he was secure.

He came from a childcare background.  
His parents had rejected him when he was 2 years old. 
He was quietly spoken and gentle in his mannerisms, 
not hostile in any way.  
When I asked him if he had any relatives, he said yes, 
but he didn’t want anything to do with them.  
He didn’t mention his foster parents as being relatives in any way.  
He was warm, authentic, pleasant, cool, but not cold in his responses to me.  
Several times when I sat alongside him in the Y dining room, 
I asked whether he minded if I asked him questions, 
and he didn’t, so we chatted away a number of times.

He was honest.  
He was willing to answer questions openly with authenticity without embarrassment. 
I asked him all sorts of questions, more and more detail as time went on, 
checking every now and again whether he was happy to answer questions with me just throwing them at him.

We talked mostly about his three months living alone in the rubbish chute. 
The whole experience and his thought processes during that experience.

I asked him what his prized possession was while he was on his own and, - 
he thought for a while.  
I asked him if it was it the watch he wore?  
I asked him if it was his T Shirt or some possession?  
He said it was his sleeping bag.

The worst thing which had ever happened to him, he told me, 
was when his sleeping bag and all his clothes got nicked.

He used to wash sometimes in the town centre precinct toilets. 
When he was on a tube train people used to move away from him when he sat down next to them.  
He used to get a little bit of money by begging; maximum in a day would be about £5.  
When he plucked up courage to go to the Housing Department for help, he was given a leaflet.

How did you eat, I asked, how did you survive?

He begged! 
With that income he was able to buy but other times he went to Sainsbury’s Supermarket and nicked food to live.
Was he ever caught? I asked.
Yes.  But they let him off.

One of the kindest things he talked about was 
one morning when he was still asleep someone came and threw a big black bag of rubbish  down the chute and over him. 
When the person realised what had happened he apologised for having doused him with rubbish.  
As well as an apology he said that for him not to worry that he wouldn’t report him. 
That was considered the only act of kindness he experienced in three months.

Living in the YMCA now for him is positive, he expressed this gently with no enthusiasm but in a real calculated way. 
He said that he attended the training unit we have in the YMCA to assist such youngsters to become equipped for the future, but not much.  
While I was talking to him one of our young women residents, 
who herself had had all sorts of problems in her past - and even now, 
came over and  whispered to him, 
gave him a little cuddle and said 
“If you want to talk to me you know where I am” and walked away.

Here in this community he’s been accepted and loved. 
For him this is a non-threatening gentle community where he’s been built up and encouraged.

In the future he wants to get a job in the catering trade in London. 
He’s well prepared to travel into London and do the most basic low paid menial task to get into regular work, 
which is very encouraging.