By Kelsey Holmes, Research Intern at Street Sleeper
Being kind is for free so why do we feel the need to reserve it? I was recently scrolling through Pinterest and saw the quote, “Throw kindness around like its confetti”, which made me think “Why don’t we?” People are quick to dismiss those living on the streets, without really understanding their story. From what I’ve learned engaging with my homeless community, I think you’d be pleasantly surprised at what they have to say. There are so many easy ways to share the simple joys in life with those around us, so why do we old back?
Through my personal experience, the simple gift of a Street Sleeper survival sleeping bag and a chat has always been received with open arms and honest appreciation. If you’re feeling strapped for cash, you can always join the Street Sleeper team on a distribution day, money-pool with friends to get something that a homeless person really needs or just sit down and chat to someone. Giving money is often a contentious issue but we shouldn’t forget that homeless people also have expenses such as a hot meal, toiletries, blankets and clothes, all of which can be gifted without actually handing out money.
I know that approaching a homeless person can be intimidating but imagine making someone’s day with a conversation? It’s that simple. If you walk past the same person every morning, greet him or her with the intention of positively kickstarting their day and through this simple act of gifting some of your time to someone in need, kickstart your own. Its a two-way street! By simply listening and engaging with a homeless person, you give them a voice which is too often suppressed. This kindness costs nothing, except a little time, time that will broaden your mind and warm your heart. By interacting with people from different walks of life, we can lower the social barriers that stand in the way of becoming a truly unified nation.
There are very few cities in the world that co-exist with so much natural beauty and we are the lucky ones who get to engage with this abundance of nature. Unfortunately many of those living on the street have never had the opportunity to enjoy that same beauty. To tackle this, Street Sleeper has initiated Homeless Hikes in an effort to get homeless people off the street and into nature. A big part of this exercise is bringing together folks with homes and folks without, so if you’d like to come along, please join our volunteer database so we can keep you updated on the next outdoor adventure.
Whether gazing down at the Atlantic Ocean or enjoying the satisfaction of summiting Lion’s Head, the sense of enjoyment is hard to miss. The hug of appreciation at the end is enough to make you want to do a Homeless Hike every weekend! It’s such a simple, easy and fun way for Capetonians to share some of the joy we experience through nature so sign up and give yourself and someone less fortunate the gift of escaping the stressors of city life.
Many of us are guilty of ‘judging a book by its cover’ when it comes to homeless people. Being homeless is difficult enough without being constantly looked down up and excluded by their own community and society in general. Let’s stand together by including the homeless into our everyday lives. Kindness is free so give freely of your time and heart and be the change you want to see in the world.