Give back has taken many forms for us, from PTP in conflict affected geographies in Pakistan to hot meals to soup kitchens in London. A few weeks ago whilst nattering with Vangeli (Van) my 2nd go to barber at Grooms barbers in Orpington another form of giveback came to mind, Vangeli (Van) a young enthusiastic character from north London wanted in on giveback. Then and there it was decided taking Van’s skills to the homeless in London will be his giveback; “if you look good the world looks at you differently right?” It was Van’s rhetorical question but is as true as it can get. I’ve experienced it first hand whilst doing field research for PTP.
We spent a weekend planning and Van getting his kit together and on Sunday 1st November we headed off to London looking for willing participants. The deal is I take care of the awareness, ‘the digital front’ as Van puts it and he’ takes care of the grooming. Our aim is to take this beyond London i.e open source it!
We set up some rules, cruel they may sound but no drunks and no junkies, this is about empowering those who want a better future and want off the streets, we have limited resources and as such are keen to invest them in the right individuals. So the process starts off with a chat on who they are and what they want for themselves, any inclination of wanting off the street and that’s our man/woman. We may or may not follow these rules, we may flex and alter them in the future but on day one that’s what we stuck to.
Meet George Adam 21 and homeless in London, George is a charmer, hard not to take a liking to this young man! He wants to get himself in a shelter, wants to get an address so that he can apply for a HGV license. George’s ambition is get a HGV license , get a job, go to a party, meet a girl and have a normal life. The least we could do was start him off with a smart haircut and a lunch, in return George educated us on the trials and tribulations of the homeless in London, thank you for adding to our body of knowledge George. Our foray this afternoon also got us introduced to Paul the park warden for Lower Grosvenor Gardens, Paul was apologetic for asking us to leave the park as he was closing down, and pointed us to a few homeless haunts for us to explore next weekend in search of other deserving candidates for Van’s services. Thanks Paul.
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