Joe’s is a story of life and death.
Joe was homeless in Sunderland, sleeping in a tent. His journey nearly ended on the Wear bridge.
It was a surprise to the team when Joe came into the homelessness drop in one day, absolutely beside himself. Tear-streaked, pacing the floor and asking staff, “Why is the world like this? Why do people betray you, when you show them kindness?”
The kindness of strangers
Joe had been sleeping in a tent in Sunderland. Making do and getting by. He had been evicted from his home when he complained about the condition and the safety of his flat. Standing up for himself cost him dearly.
He began coming to our Sunderland drop in for a cuppa and, of course, for a friendly face and ear. Always grateful for the warm drink and even warmer welcome after cold nights on the hard ground at the mercy of the weather. He’d also been at the mercy of the cruelty of careless strangers on more than one occasion. Suffering verbal abuse, theft and judgement.
Our drop in Project Leader, Dave, commented how Joe had always come in upbeat and “jolly”. But, on this one day, something had changed.
Once Joe managed to take a breath the story unfolded.
He had taken in another rough sleeper, into his meagre shelter. Cooked for him on his small BBQ. Opened his heart as much as his humble home.
In the morning Joe had overslept. He had no alarm to wake him. His housemate for the night had taken his phone. He’d also taken his wallet and even his bus pass.
Joe was unable to get to work that day. He was late. As his phone has been taken he’d had no way of letting his employers know that he couldn’t make it.
Work had been his place of solace and pride. Somewhere he wasn’t just ‘homeless’, but was one of the team.
Joe’s story nearly ended there
But thankfully it didn’t. He came to our drop in instead. Our drop in was a place he felt safe to come and share, to fall apart. We all need and deserve that. There he found the emotional and practical support he needed to keep going.
Joe is very proud to say he’s now doing really well. He’s housed. Still working. He’s got himself a bike, so he doesn’t have to rely on that bus pass anymore.
It’s because of our generous and considered donors that we have doors to open to Joe and the many like him.
*Names have been changed to protect identity
Image generously provided by North East Photographer Nostalgia Kid