I was working late tonight and didn’t get home till 9:30 and although it’s late I took my dogs out for a walk along the canal. It’s almost dark and in places it’s pitch black but my dogs are happy to run ahead while I bimble and stumble along behind and then all of a sudden both start barking. I whistle and the dogs at first ignore me, again I whistle and then come running back to me. I put them on their leads and proceed down the path and come across a man and a woman sat just off the towpath with a small campfire. I apologise for the dogs as they must have given them a fright but the man brushes aside my gesture and says “don’t worry. It happens quite a lot”
As I stand and chat to the couple it’s evident their sleeping rough and have been for sometime. Their clothes betray them more than anything else as their both slightly dishevelled.
I’ve never been homeless in the sense of having to sleep in the wild so cannot compare to their experience but they seem to be happy and we exchange laughs and they make a fuss of my now calm dogs. We chat and they tell me they lost everything when their business went under and the bank took away their house and they ended up on the streets. That was over a year ago.
They’re walking to see relatives in Rugby and prefer the canal as it’s safer and folk ask less questions.
Despite having nothing, well very little, I’m offered a drink and a seat around their fire. Sadly, I decline as it’s now dark and I have to walk 2 miles back home. “Perhaps another day” I gesture.
I bid them a farewell and ask if they need anything and my offer of money is declined so I leave the man my fleece jacket as a few minutes of being uncomfortable for me is nothing compared to sleeping outside even though it’s summer, it’s still colder at night. It’s a token that’s appreciated.
Their not the first homeless people I’ve met on the canal near me and probably won’t be the last but please don’t look down your nose at people because at this time in their lives they don’t have a humble abode. First, because their human beings and if you look down at the homeless then your not human anymore and secondly you never know this might be you one day!
I hope they reach their destination without incident and also hope tomorrow they haven’t left by the time I take the dogs out again in the morning as id like to make sure they were okay last night and say see you again, again.