December. A line of people builds up quietly outside Lincoln Field’s Inn at Holborn, central London. Men, and a few women, of all ages and backgrounds line up as the temperature drops for the evening.
They wait patiently for the distribution of food and clothes, kindly donated by volunteers through the charity Children of Adam.
With the effects of economic downturn more people will be subject to forms of homelessness according to latest research. Latest reports say figures continue to rise across the country.
I know that it is hard to live in London without a job or enough money even when you’re not homeless and walking past the homeless on the street I’m reminded how poverty in all its forms can strike anyone of us at any time. Fasting long hours reduced me to tears this year and I missed out on the Flashmob Iftars with the homeless in Ramadhan. When I heard charities hold a regular time to feed the homeless I wanted to come help.
I approached the line wondering if this was the line of homeless people, because they look, well, normal! I think I expected to see starving lost souls wondering out from their lonely corners in clothes that have seen better days. You’d never guess these people were homeless by their appearance.
The volunteers know those that come often and I quickly learn homeless they may have shelters for the night to get a clean and a wash but come to find a share of food and clothes.
I guess it’s not always easy to spot the vulnerable and needy from the way a person is dressed nor is it good to judge on appearance.
I was told to bring anything I could, be it: food, drink, men’s clothing, blankets or toiletries. I didn’t know what to take. I know I can’t get to sleep if my feet are cold so I took a wad of socks and I know my Dad likes bananas so I took a bunch. They all went. I don’t know why I thought they’d be last things to go!
I continued to help give out sandwiches, fruit, hot food, water and snacks till everyone was fed. The general gratitude of the homeless queue made me feel humble.
The queue was managed well by the volunteers. I left when I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes due to the cold despite all my layers.
On my way back I spot a cold lost soul, sat near the tube station, clutching at a cup for loose change. I wonder how small change can change his situation and why he doesn’t know about the food that gets handed out not far from where he was sitting.
The charities may not reach everyone but we can all positively change lives in small ways.
If you are interested to volunteer, Children of Adam feed the homeless every Sunday evening from 5.45pm at Lincoln Field’s Inn, Holborn. Just turn up with donations.