The other day I went to the shop near my house. It’s a sad sign of the times that there is nearly always a couple of homeless in the telephone boxes near the shop.
This particular day, there were two people there – a man and a woman. I’d seen them a few times before and we’d had a chat in the past. Today, I said hello and the guy said “I don’t suppose you could help us get a bed for the night?” He went on to talk about the shelter they wanted to stay in that night, and they were £8 short, with only a couple of hours left to go.
(Aside: I don’t really care what your moral viewpoint on giving to people begging on the street is – I hate the idea of someone sleeping rough and it doesn’t matter to me what reasons they have for being in the place that they’re in. No-one should be without a place to stay in this day and age)
I was going to the shop to buy myself a quick and easy dinner – I had some stuff at home but that would have meant proper cooking, so I was going to spend a few quid on something I could just bung in the oven.
Instead, I handed over the fiver to the man and the woman. The guy almost had tears in his eyes and said “you don’t know what this means to me – I can get a shower tonight – I tell you what, they won’t be able to get me out of that bed in the morning”.
That fiver meant a bit of convenience to me, saving myself a few minutes when cooking my tea. It meant a hot shower and a good night’s sleep to that man.
The same amount of money. A world of difference in value.