This is somewhat different to the usual weekly blog that I write. I don’t often write about events outside the weekly demo, to be honest I wasn’t sure that my readers would want to read it. But I thought I’d tell you anyway. Some might want to listen.
I was awoken quite early by a crank call, made by someone for reasons known only to themselves. They appeared to find it humorous to make fun of what we do, and the help that we give to people. Some people are very strange, and sadly this isn’t unusual its become par of the course. I don’t take it to heart and I did report it.
You see, in the over 3 1/2 years that I’ve been doing this I have encountered many negative things. Name calling, swearing, being told by G4S that they were going to knock myself and a friend out, criticism that was unfounded, a death threat, trolling and the like. It seems the more that we help people, the more people object. There’s an old saying “There’s nothing as strange as folk” and I think that its very accurate.
Anyway, the phone rang again. I answered, half thinking that it would be another crank call but it wasn’t. It was a lady asking for help.
Once again I was told that she had reached her three food parcel limit with the Trussell Trust. She sounded very anxious and I agreed to meet her to chat, and to buy her some bits to tide her over.
She was waiting for me at our agreed meeting spot. She went on to say that she is autistic and finds it hard to access some of the local help, she admitted herself that she can sometimes say inapropriate things, and act aggressively. She said that people just don’t understand her and that she does try. I went on to say that they should be understanding of her situation, but sometimes its not easy when in certain situations.
She said that she had had her three food parcel limit from the Trussell Trust, so I gave her a list of independent food banks. I then took her shopping.
We went into the local cheap food shop, it sells some very good stuff in there at a discount. We chose the basics, you know, bread, milk etc. I asked her what else would she like. She said some cordial. She hadn’t had any for ages she said and it would be a treat.
A bottle of cordial a treat. Just hold that thought there. Local to myself we can buy a bottle of cordial for a £1 or less. It’s certainly not a luxury, but she was very excited about having a bottle. So I bought her the biggest bottle that I could find. Her smile said it all she was overjoyed.
We were chatting on the way round the shop, about her future, what she would like to do etc. She said she just wants to be happy and secure and that she would be accessing the help available locally. Because I had taken the time to talk with her and listen to her she felt like she was ready to engage with some of these agencies. She hadn’t felt able to do this before because she hadn’t felt listened to previously.
She went home happy, and more optimistic than she had done in a while. Later on that evening she phoned me to tell me thank you and of the things that are being set in place for her now.
This showed me a few things. Compassion costs nothing. We really need to be listening to each other and be patient. Please don’t dismiss someone because they might appear awkward or a bit uptight. Often there is a reason for this. It can take time to build up trust between people and organisations, and sometimes they have to be a bit patient.
I have a friend Gill Watson, who also blogs. Shes done some amazing things to help people, and shes a very strong person. But this week it got to her. She was helping someone and had a emotional breakdown in a shop whilst buying some shopping for someone in a similar situation to the lady that I was helping.
Sometimes it does get to us, her tipping point was a tin of beans, mine was the family with children sat over the road eating food out of tins that we had just given them in a food parcel.
Tinned food has become in my eyes symbolic of Tory Britain. We are forced to eat from them because the government chooses to make us suffer. They get richer whilst we get poorer.
Tinned beans and a bottle of juice. Luxuries to many, they mean nothing to most people.