It was a nice sunny day on the 1st of June, and the Bradford team set out to change the lives of hungry people, for at least a day.
We started the days events at 8am meeting in Bradford town centre; hoping to search for, and find hungry and struggling people waking to the sun’s first light. The RLabs Bradford team brought with them, sandwiches, water and crisps; a small bundle that to these people can change not only their days, but hope to change the way they see the world; hope to make these people see the good EVERYDAY people can make. A positive influence in the world.
Our first half an hour found our efforts in vain; the places we expected to find these people were empty, small packages and cardboard blankets showing us that someone had previously laid there, but there whereabouts as we arrived was unknown. After a while longer searching we bumped into the local law; and they gave us a pleasant reception sending us on our way to the darker and quieter streets of Bradford. It was here we found our first homeless and struggling person; a poor stranded soul asleep in the doorway of an old business building. Revealed to all, in danger from the cold world. The team sent out a single member, to leave him a meal for him to wake up to.
Our second meeting was with a polite woman directly involved in the streets of the town centre, selling the ‘Big Issue’ a local magazine. Her name we found out was Contessa, and she’d been walking the streets from 7am to make her daily living. She told us that she was lucky to have a single meal a day; relying solely on friends or passersby to support her. By the time our team had left we parted with smiles. A women happy to see the help ordinary people like the RLabs team were bringing. A packed lunch changing her day. We left with a photo; a smile and a positive mindset.
A member of the team bumped into a man named William, a man known to many of the members of RLabs through ‘Inn Churches’. William is a man who now has found himself homeless; from a past world of business and wealth. Extreme circumstances leading to his present life. William’s story was inspiring, and he was happy to point us in the right direction to help others, he knew in the same situation.
Around the same area more people, of similar situations came to us. Hearing the word’s of other homeless and hungry and coming to look for us themselves. Within five minutes of finding William three people had found us, we found more stories, some quite dark and in all honesty some quite worrying stories. After ten minutes of speaking with them we saw a lot of these people were going to agencies for food, however had a place of their own to stay. Recent cuts in benefits leaving them starving due to rent commitments before food. After all, a roof over their head leaves them at least safe; but their health is at risk. More people made mention of a day shelter located close to Bradford college and we set off in hope of helping more people.
We arrived at the day centre and could see that there are places in Bradford which are providing for the hungry. They were spoken highly of and the place was full as it was near lunch time. We spent some time there speaking to various people in various situations. We could see that most people had arrived in their situations through benefit sanctions, addictions or extreme circumstances.
We fed over 20 hungry people, gave them a voice and learned about the real, damaging effects benefits cuts are having on a daily basis. How sanctions are the difference between living comfortably (accommodation, food but not much else) or going hungry all week, living in empty spaces and begging on the streets for food. We see how this is probably the case up and down the country. You may be thinking to yourself ‘well what can I do to fix this?’.
Well, tomorrow, next week, whenever… Make an extra sandwich for your lunch, buy an extra bottle of water or crisps and give it to that guy you pass every day. It may be the only thing he eats that day… Honest!
You can follow our campaign on Facebook as we continue giving a voice to those less fortunate.