Friday, 17 February 2017

Full circle

You might remember a blog I wrote back in June last year about a lovely homeless lady called Denise who I met outside Marylebone station. Well, I bumped into her there again last night (again, somewhat bizarrely, only because my train was cancelled. I'm starting to think that Chiltern Rail are deliberately engineering our encounters).

Anyway, I just wanted you all to know that she's still going strong and is looking SO much better than when I met her last year. Her speech has improved a lot too - I wonder if that's because she got her false teeth back or if she's just generally in better health than she was. But that twinkle in her eye is still very much there - still chirpy and full of good-humoured sparkle and namedropping like there's no tomorrow. She's selling the Big Issue now and living in a women's refuge just down the road from the station. Utterly lovely lady.

We caught up and she excitedly rummaged through her bag to show me a photo of when she met Ellie Goulding and the Mayor of London (in that order of importance, of course!) over Christmas. She couldn't find it in the end and wanted to take my address so she could post me a copy but neither of us had a pen. Luckily I've managed to track down an article written about the encounter. She was SO proud of it, and even more proud when I mentioned the blog that I'd written about her and how it'd affected how people I know all over the world have been viewing homelessness. She really liked the idea of homeless folk in America being treated more kindly just because we happened to meet in London. I love how keen she is to use her skills to help change people's opinions and make life better for people sleeping rough. Judging by how well she looked yesterday it seems that these things really do come full circle.

I got a few funny looks as we nattered away, and particularly when I squeezed her arm as we said goodbye. Apparently actually touching someone who's in a different social situation to yourself is unusual and worthy of a raised eyebrow (which only goes to show how deeply this stigma is entrenched). Hopefully just seeing this happen may have at least given a few people pause for thought.

So here's the article. Denise is the one wearing the Santa hat. If you ever see her in London then say hi, buy a Big Issue and ask her about herself - she'll natter your ear right off. :)

And here's the original blog I wrote when I first met her:

...and the follow-up:

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