Helping the Homeless in Brighton
Somethingyousaid.com’s good friend, model Tess Dimos, spends some time in the company of Brighton’s homeless:
Walking past a beggar in the street. Dirty, glazed-eyed & hungry. We’ve all done it. “Just keep walking” we think, “I’ll spare some change for the next one.”
For the past few weeks especially, I’ve felt so blessed, knowing I can wrap myself up in my goose down feather jacket when it gets cold. Knowing I’ll have enough money for a hot drink when I’m out and not even thinking when I’ll next have a hot meal. These people who we walk past everyday do not have such simple luxuries.
What I’m about to tell you has no doubt been done before, but I want to show my admiration for the people of Brighton and those who helped make it happen. Last week I put a Facebook status out calling my friends & family to help donate blankets, jumpers, dog food, money or whatever they could give so that my friend Luke Woodford and I could spread the love & kindness to Brighton’s homeless.
In total £175 was raised from various people, Luke Woodford and myself. Blankets, sleeping bags, jumpers, new socks, foil blankets, waterproof ponchos and LUCUS beanie hats were amongst the items which were donated.
The day started off at 11am and ended at 6:30pm. We have helped out at least 20 homeless people so far in Brighton. Every person we met we asked what they wanted to eat and drink. All of them wanted hot food so we spent our time to-and-from takeaways. We delivered hot pizzas, foot long subway sandwiches of their choice, hot pasties, chicken curries, chocolate cakes, tea, coffee and cola.
On our journey today we met an elderly gentleman called John who has been on the streets for three years. Clean shaven and someone who tries to take care of himself, John told us that he needed some new jumpers and a pair of jeans. Luke had an idea of taking him to Primark to buy him new items of clothing. John has been suffering from pneumonia and was in hospital just a few days ago. In his honesty, he confirmed that a lot of the homeless in Brighton beg for money to buy heroin and other drugs. While he admitted in sharing a joint with friends and drinking a can of larger on occasion, he was certainly not an addict and it was clear that he wanted to be off the streets and get himself back on track. I’ve never seen anyone so happy and so thankful, it made us even more determined to find more people like John who wanted and needed the same help.
As the day went on, tears were shared amongst the homeless and ourselves. A 15-year-old boy – known to police – told me he ran away from home because he was abused. With just a sleeping bag around his legs, I got him some food and a drink. He hadn’t seen a proper bed in a while so we headed to the YMCA hostel and sorted him somewhere to sleep for a couple of nights. I spoke to YMCA about him and he is a regular. I gave him a £5 note to make sure he has a decent meal tomorrow too, he said he would spend the money on a throw to keep him warm.
We also met Andy. He is born-and-bred in Brighton, he has been on the streets for five years, said he went to school but dropped out of college as he got bullied badly. He told me his family life wasn’t great and occasionally he stays with friends but doesn’t want to feel like a “burden” as most of the homeless do. When I offered Andy some food he welled up and said “why are you being so nice to me?” I explained to him and every single one of the sweethearts I met today that the homeless are always in our thoughts and where the cash and items of clothing had come from. Every person looked at us in disbelief.
We met a few guys who had dogs and we made sure the dogs felt a touch of the goodwill we were bringing to Brighton with cans of dog food, dog chews and treats! Dogs and owners equally happy.
I could go on and give you every individual story, but it goes more or less the same. It seems broken down families, abuse, money problems and, yes, in some cases addiction, are the cause for these lost souls to end up on cold streets. Looking at statistics, homelessness has risen by 93% in the past two years in Brighton, which is absolutely shocking. There are places where the homeless can go but not enough is being done; soup and bread are the only things on offer. They have to make do with what they’ve got. Sometimes we can all get a little bit ungrateful and lost in our own worlds, complaining about the things we don’t have. I think we can all take a leaf out of their books and learn to appreciate one another and what we have. We are very, very lucky.
I want to do my bit to raise awareness of the problems we are facing and sometimes we wish to ignore. I think if we all do our bit and start charity right on our doorsteps, we can all help make someone smile. Even a cup of tea and a hug will brighten someone’s day.
Below are some images that I have been given permission to use these online. Unfortunately some people didn’t want to be named or have their picture taken.
Words by Tess Dimos. Pictures by Tess Dimos and Luke Woodford.