Each encounter I’ve had with Lesley and Tom has left me with strong feelings, positive feelings amongst all the sad things I witness happening in this world.
On my bus ride home, I saw a girl sitting on the floor with a cardboard sign. I knew instantly it was Lesley. Surprised to see her again, I knew I was going to get off the bus and talk to her.
I was so excited to find she remembered me. I asked where Tom was. He’d gone to help another homeless friend of theirs and see if there was a cheap place for them all to stay for the night. I got Lesley a hot cocoa, a caramel macchiato for me and sat down on the floor next to her.
She told me the most exciting news. Next week her and Tom will be housed in a B&B and then will begin looking for a flat to stay permanently! Tom has plans to get them as financially stable as possible. This is it. After two years they’re ready to start there lives together off the streets. I told her how incredibly happy I am for them both. I spoke to her about her future and suggested perhaps she should try mentoring of some kind as I have no doubt she’s an inspiration to many. I told her how much impact she could make in telling her story. She liked the idea.
She looked well. We spoke about what it was like living on the streets. As we spoke, we encountered rude passers-by. It ain’t nothing new to Lesley. I told her I respect how she holds herself in times where she’s being verbally abused. She said the first time it happened she got upset and spent the night crying. This made me sad to hear, but sadder to that the abuse had become a norm.
I asked her how she lived on a day to day basis. She seemed to take care of herself. They’d wash in public toilets. Sometimes she’d come out of toilets with wet hair and people would look at her strangely. A local centre let’s them shower 3 times a week. People offer them food and when they can buy food, they try to buy healthy. They charge up their phone in McDonalds.
Lesley wore a long new-ish looking coat she said was given to her by a lady walking past. The lady had bought the coat from Zara and decided to give it to Lesley. The generosity of people seems unreal, but sitting there you can see what’s possible. Unfortunately, because Lesley and Tom take care of themselves, people sometimes accuse them of lying about being homeless.
As we sat there two women walking walked past and saw Lesley’s sign. A few metres after they passed, they stopped walking. I said to Lesley quietly, I think they’re coming back. “Really?” she said. “Yeah, trust me, I just know she’ll come back – she saw your sign.” And about 30 seconds later, after rummaging in her bag, the woman comes back and gives me money: “Have a good night ladies” she says. I reply “Thank you! Hope you both have a lovely evening too!” and hand Lesley the change. Inside it felt strange to think that woman thought I was homeless, but in the time I spent with Lesley, I began to see what it was like. And I began to see how any one of us could be out there.
One thing that always gets me is Lesley’s response. That night, people gave money, cake, a smoothie, a man even gave a bag of food. Each time, Lesley had a reaction on her face, one of genuine gratitude and shock about the kindness of others. It was as though it was the first time someone had given anything. It was incredibly heartwarming.
Tom returned. The first thing he said to me was: “You’ve made us famous!”. It seems several people who’ve seen the previous video had seen them and approached them. I’m not sure who those people were, but if it was you, thank you!
Following the first blog I wrote about Tom and Lesley, I had many people approach/message me asking how they can help those homeless on the street. It was amazing to know people wanted to actively do something so I offered advice but deep down I felt lost in knowing what to say back to them. So I figured I’d asked Lesley and here’s what she had to say:
Both Tom and Lesley were extremely thankful for the time I’d spent with them and for sharing their message. Lesley said that after our last meeting she was hoping to see me again and it was lucky I saw her this time. I felt happy inside to know that I may have helped somehow even though I don’t know exactly how that was. We hugged and said goodbye.
Sometimes talking to people can help them more than anything. Simply saying “how are you?” can make a person feel valued and loved. And that radiates positivity, motivation is present too, making it easier to get out of difficult situations. Each one of us has the potential to offer positive energy to another person and it is our responsibility to realise and act upon this.
Lesley, again I forgot how to ask how to spell your name! Hopefully, I will meet you again sometime and I will remember to ask. But ’till then, I wish you all the best! 🙂