Housing charity Shelter reports that there were about 320,000 homeless people in Britain, a rise of 13,000 since the year before. And while London has the highest rates of homelessness, other UK areas show the increase in numbers. There are many reasons why people go homeless, with loss of dwelling, falling out with family and friends and breakdown of a relationship being the biggest factors. And while most of us could find it hard to relate to such issues, thankfully, empathy and compassion are virtues that still exist and for one homeless man, it proved to be crucial.
Recently, a 16-year-old Charlotte Howard came across a note on the streets of Hastings, East Sussex. It was right next to a tent and once she read it, the girl reported that it broke her heart. The author of the note, a 37-year-old Anthony Johnson has been homeless for nine years.
The note read:
I will do a trial for free to show how I work. I don’t take drugs or drink
I will also do:
Anything to earn a living and make life seem worth living.
Help change a life”
After reading the note, Charlotte snapped a picture of it and shared it on Facebook to try and help the homeless man. There, it was noticed by Nelson Smith, a landscape gardener who saw the potential in Anthony’s plea. After contacting Charlotte, Smith set up Anthony with a gardening job that he is set to start soon. “I have had problems with mental health in recent years and in this post, I saw someone trying to help themselves” Nelson explained.
“I wouldn’t have got anywhere looking for a job if it wasn’t for her – she really is incredible,” Anthony said afterward. “It’s not like I haven’t previously been asking for help but all it takes is an open-minded person like Charlotte to come along and help” he added. Charlotte also revealed that it was the last sentence of Anthony’s note that truly pushed her to do something good.
Anthony explained that he’s recovering from a bad past that was filled with drugs and crime. “I didn’t want to do the things I used to do – my social circles used to be drug takers and criminals. Now it’s pastors and people doing outreach work,” the man elaborated on his situation. He also explained that it was his choice to leave his awful past behind that landed him in the streets, but he didn’t wish to be homeless, he wanted to make a difference in his life. “Getting a job is about having something to do rather than rotting away on a bench – it’s about having something in your life and at the moment that seems to be coming back,” Anthony said.
Charlotte also managed to raise over £1,000 for Anthony’s cause and managed to buy him a caravan so he would have a place to live while working. “Thank you for helping change what I have going on, thank you for understanding my situation” the man addressed those who helped him. “If I could write a message to thank every single person who donated then I would” he added.
Images/text via Swns