Homelessness: It’s fleece because they set fire to sleeping bags.

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Ellis drew this and gave it to me, not for money, but as a thank you that I “didn’t just pass by without making eye contact but got down to my level and sat shoulder to shoulder with me.”

Ellis is a homeless man in Central London. He was told by Mr Andrew Pearson that he couldn’t draw when he was doing his GCSEs… He later got an A grade at college doing art. His dream is to become a famous artist only so he can go to schools and tell kids never to allow anyone to kill their dreams or their talent.

Ellis grew up in child care homes. I knew this when he answered my question about whether he was safe and felt he could take care of himself. Stop. Read that again. So what he’s saying is being bought up in child care homes teaches you to take care of yourself? I’d know that, you’d know that too if you’ve been reading my blogs of street children.

He proves his survival skills by telling me stories of why he no longer has a sleeping bag after a drunk man set fire to it while he was sleeping inside it and now sports a fleece blanket because he says it’s less dangerous. I listen to stories of piles because of the way he’s sat all day. I hear about broken hearts and fractured bones.

Ellis only asked for some popcorn chicken and while I sat on the pavement next to him waiting while Shariff went to get him the food, Ellis asks if I’m not going to get embarrassed by how people look at me “sitting next to a dirty man like me”… No one did look at me, more stopped to give him money (throw money down at him actually)… As we shook hands I asked if I could give him a kiss. He tells me and Shariff it’s the first kiss he’s had in 6 years on the street.

Then the common theme came – he served in the army. They made them sleep in the woods and when he was hungry they asked, “can you kill a rabbit” and he answered “it’s OK, I’ll go without”. I mention this for those who are afraid of the homeless.

I’m not writing lots about how I feel or how I think you should feel.

This post isn’t like all my other posts either about social responsibility. It’s to the point. Because the point is Ellis and Rob and Tim exist. All were willing to put their lives on the line for you and their country and tonight they’ll sleep rough.

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