Yesterday I was moved to tears as I walked from my office, in my neighbourhood and literally within a 5 minute journey, I encountered over 12 homeless people. A couple of them begged for money, others were just sitting there, gazing into the horizon, others trying to hide their situation and look busy.
In fact, a few days ago, I said hello to one guy and smiled. He said hello back, but then he said, “do you know me?”. I said “no”. His response to me broke my heart – “then why are you being so nice?” What do you say to that?
However, I want to talk about one situation that spoke to me personally. I was leaving my mother’s home. As I crossed the road, this little old lady was standing there with her trolley, hat and coat (yes it was warm yesterday). I smiled at her, as you do with most elderly people – out of respect, and then continued on my way. As I entered the main road – Cranbrook Road, I stopped outside an estate agent for 2 minutes. As I turned around I encountered the lady again. Was this a coincidence?
I headed into the heart of Ilford, got what I needed and returned. As I walked up to my mother’s door, there she was again, ringing the bell of the homes next to ours. She turned as I crossed the road and a conversation ensued.
Lady: “Excuse me, do you live here?”
Lady: “Do you know the people next door?”
Lady: “I was ringing their bell, to tell them how dirty their alley is?”
Me: “Yes I know, people like to dump their rubbish all over the place in this area.”
Lady: “Can I show you and you can tell me if I am wrong.”
As I followed the lady, and she showed me the area that she was speaking about, I looked and saw that it was indeed a mess. But what I noticed more than anything else was the pillow and bedding, tucked behind the rubbish.
At that point, my heart sank. This is where this lady sleeps.
This lady could easily be my grandmother. In a world where we have our own daily challenges and obstacles, please let us all open our eyes and connect with each other. I do not have the answer. GOD knows I do not yet have a solution. But a kind word or a smile can go a long way.
This post was written by Nicola Millington