86 people pitched up for Christmas with us. The same mixture of people we always have. Three pictures will stay with me.
Mr Foster. I’ve smelt some things in the past but never had my stomach literally turn. I heaved! Fortunately I’d been too busy to eat during the day so no nastiness! Everything about him was a mess from his head - which included a huge beard encrusted with everything from salvia to - well the mind boggles - to his feet equally encrusted but with human excrement. His trousers were unbelievable and we tried to get him some replacements to be told to "piss off", something he was quite obviously quite capable to do himself freely wherever! However low people get – they still have pride.
Paul. Well dressed, articulate, educated but very very lonely. A frequent user of our charity shop, not for anything in particular but to share in community. We gave everyone a gift as they were leaving, the men scarves, hats and gloves. Alex came back. "I don’t deserve this", "but we want you to have it", "but I don’t deserve it!", "please take it". He looked at my wife his voice cracked as he said thank you. "This is the first Christmas gift I have had for years." Um Grace?
James. An interesting member of our church. Five years ago he came to London and found himself on the streets. He went from hostel to hostel until he went to a SA hostel. He has been coming to our fellowship since he was re-housed in the area. He came with me to help get elderly people on and off the bus. Walked them from the mini-bus to their flats. Engaged with them. As we drove back there seemed to be a new sense of self-worth. "Can I help next year? This has been one of the best Christmas' I can remember." Everyone can offer something.
Oh and the international leaders of TSA, The General came!