Stories from the streets

27th March 2016

I’ll never forget the first day you met me. Yesterday I went into Margate and opposite McDonalds there you were, in a sleeping bag. I felt compelled to stop. You spoke to me. You told me you had lost your son through a brain tumour. I then told you God had lost His son too and understood your pain. You listened to me telling you about New Life Church and how you could find help there. When I walked back up the street, you waved and said “I’ll see you tomorrow”. So I will be at New Life tomorrow.

Of course you never came.

New Year’s Eve 2017

You had aspirations for a job. You wanted to work with Aspire. You weren’t in the Winter Shelter. You suffered from depression and had left a domestic abuse relationship and come miles away from your family.

I had felt to take postcards out with me. You took a beautiful picture of the Dolomites for the wall of your shop home. When I returned you had put it on the back of your shopping trolley. Rubbish is not rubbish to someone who has nothing.

Just say it, you said as I came towards you. “What”? I asked and you gave me the saddest smile possible. “Will you marry me?” I smiled back; the saddest smile possible.

You took a “Word for Today” magazine. You have a faith and said you attend New Life Church. You knew that woulod make me happy, accepting a gift from me.

Good Friday 2017

Now in another shop doorway, still you were your smiling self. You grinned like the famous Cheshire cat, with several missing teeth, when I gave you your Easter Egg. “That's the first Easter Egg I'vebeen given in a long time” you said. ”Enjoy” I said, as I walked away.

Summer 2017

Your sign stated : “I don't drink I don't do drugs, I have just fallen on hard times, please help”. I went to put £2.00 in your cap, then I recognised you. “Hello I said”. “Hey” you said and smiled, with sadness dancing in your brown eyes. “How are you doing ?” . “I got beaten up recently and my trainers got stolen”. “Sorry to hear that”. You asked if I wanted an ice lolly and I said no thank you.

December 2017

A bitterly cold day. I, wrapped in my charity shop fur coat that made me feel like Elizabeth Taylor. Amazing, I bought this originally when I lived in Tunbridge Wells and It has lasted for years. Warm as toast inside it. You shivering, huddled in your dirty green sleeping bag. “Hello” I said, how are you ?” “Still on the streets”. Why aren”t you in the Winter shelter ? “Because there are paedos and rapists in there and I don't want to be around those sort of people”. “Can you spare some change ?” “I would rather not give you any money, but I will buy you a sandwich”. “Thank you”. “What flavour would you like ?” “Chicken and sweetcorn please”. So I went in and bought you a sandwich and some chocolate, for a treat.

24th December 2017

I handed you the not so neatly wrapped Christmas package . You smiled and shook my hand, for a bit longer than was customary. “Thank you, God bless you”. “Happy Christmas” I said, “take care of yourself”. I started to walk away then turned back “it”s getting really cold”, “you can ask to go in if it gets freezing”. “Just go to the police station or the Gateway in the library. They will help you”. “Thanks, happy Christmas love”.

January 2018

The Beast From the East 1

The coldest weather in years. Snowflakes softly surrounding doorways, covering all in a stark white blanket. And in the midst of it all, there you were, braving the weather, with your two coats, hat, scarf and ill matching pink gloves.

You waved and smiled. I offered to buy you a coffee. “White with five sugars love” you said. “Would you like something to eat ?” “Would you mind getting me a burger love” “Of course”, I said.

The Beast From the East 2 17/03/2018

“Love runs through us through veins of suffering.” Ann Voskamp: The Broken way (p. 170).

Did you call me to come that day? I was in a lot of emotional pain myself, however I suddenly felt compelled to go to the streets at 5pm to find you and check in you were okay.

I wandered up and down Margate High Street and then thought that I would go to the shelter on Margate Seafront.

I found you there. You chose a brown deerstalker hat I had with me and it really suited you. You seemed happier after I had given it. I also gave you some socks and boxers.

You said thank you for my kindness and I said that people do care. I urged you to consider the Winter shelter and you smiled and screwed up your face.

It was so cold, I found a café and they let you sit in there, although one of the managers (I assume), said it mustn’t be for hours. I ordered you a Margarita pizza and a coffee. The girl serving me said “you are doing a very good thing”. I said that people are dying and that a man had frozen to death in Birmingham or London.

You listened to me as I talked about being so saddened that people are so lacking in compassion. It was terribly cold and one place you told me about wouldn’t let a man in because he had a dog and another said you couldn’t sit there for hours.


I watched a programme last night on BBC 1. It was celebrities living on the streets for a night. I thought of you. One celeb, a famous snooker player went into a hotel in the end. At one point one of them had a conversation with someone, then walked away. He then returned and said “I am so sorry, I didn’t ask your name”. I thought of you.


Wind whipping icy cold still. There you are, scarfed and gloved up, shivering and not looking so good. I get you a hot chocolate without even asking if you want one. You take it from me with your smile, looking kind of resigned that life is tough. I want to offer you a spare bed, but know that wouldn’t be such a great idea. You knew how shy I was.

"Just say it," you silently reminded yourself. You knew you'd regret it if you didn't.

“Can I ask you something?”


“I have been speaking to you all this time and I don’t even know your name”.

You watched me smile as I told you the plain name I had been given.

“Thanks for telling me, see you later Jane look after yourself”.

You shouted at my retreating steps “me Tarzan, you Jane”

Sometimes there is a connection through pain. You knew that day I didn’t feel quite as depressed when I went home to my empty flat. You knew I thought of you (Tarzan) a lot and wondered about your story.


You had a black eye and looked in pain.

“Can you get to the hospital”?

"It’s a long way".

“Please go, you look as if you need some medical help”


“Promise me you’ll get to A and E”


“God bless Tarzan”

“God bless you too sweetheart”


I thought I would look at the news and then it caught my eye. A small sentence:

‘Homeless man crushed in bin’

‘A man died from infection after his legs were crushed from being tipped into a refuse lorry – because he was sleeping in a bin.

Russell Lane’s legs were severely crushed after a rubbish container he was sleeping in was emptied into the lorry.

Another headline Britain’s most poverty-hit areas have nine times greater rate of homeless deaths, figures show.

I never saw you again. Flowers were laid in the shop doorway where you used to sleep.

"What is the point?" I have often found myself thinking. And then I think about life from your point of view. Our brief encounter through pain. It certainly made my life brighter. I hope it was the same for you.

RIP Russell Lane, sweet dreams and I hope you are in a beautiful home now. Perhaps you are looking down on me, smiling a happy smile.


Based on a true story.

June 21, 2020 13:04

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Len Mooring
22:25 Jul 01, 2020

Splendid, Hope. No moralising, just compassion without taking it to extremes. Well done for highlighting someone with difficulties yet had only to reach out to an official agency for real help, but was inhibited by his own considerations.


Hope Wells
07:22 Jul 02, 2020

Thank you so much Len. I absolutely hate moralising, but I love compassion. I wanted to make a point about human connectedness, without coming over as 'preachy'. I am so pleased you enjoyed the story.


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