It was his hands that I noticed. They showed the scars of being badly burnt, scalded. Then the side of his face – not as bad but damaged. Then I noticed his eyes. There was a weight to them. No light. No sparkle. Andy was in our charity shop looking for a change of clothes – I was covering the morning - as our volunteers couldn’t make it - wondering what Nicky Gumble was doing today. I wonder if he was working in a charity shop somewhere? (first sardonic thought of the day!!)
As we talked I discovered he stayed in a Salvation Army Hostel in Stoke where my friend Trevor Green worked. "Hey you know Trev?"..."Course one of the best Andy replied smiling!" We talk some more and he and his mate leave saying they’ll be back to pay for the clothes. “Yeah – whatever guys” (second sardonic thought of the day!!).
Andy came back today. We sit and chat. Then he says could we talk privately. "I need to talk to you about my life". For the next half an hour he tells me about his grace starved life. About his quest to find his parents. About his son that he has never seen. About his depression. About how one day he was so low he set fire to himself. About how now he had a criminal record of arson. About how no hostel or employee would have anything to do with him because of his record. About how he needed to share his life with anyone so that he didn’t feel so low. About how he felt he could trust me.
"Do you fancy coming and painting our new gate?" This guy needs to feel needed. This guy needs family – I hope he does come back – says he’s coming Sunday.