I’m a volunteer at the Cathedral Archer Project in Sheffield. I work in the kitchen, washing up, not because that’s a special talent that I have, but because it saves the more experienced workers and volunteers from doing a shitty and time-consuming job.
Although it might seem like moral-signaling, I really can’t take any credit for what I do now because, for most of my life, I have been one of those people who has walked on by, not willing to help, too busy to help, not knowing what to do, not wanting to get involved.
This morning, on my way to do my four-hour, once-a-week shift, I passed a motionless human body sprawled on a section of the grass forming the curtilage of Sheffield Cathedral, just above the Archer Project, just around the corner from the entrance. A young woman, dressed in office-wear and smoking a cigarette was nearby, looking in the direction of the body.
I walked past, and then turned back, and asked the smoking woman if she knew… as it turned outed to be… her. She did not. I went over to the prone woman and tapped her on the shoulder. To my relief, she woke up, a woman in her late twenties (maybe). I apologised for waking her up.
By this time, another young woman dressed in office-wear had joined me and expressed her disgust at other people walking past. The now-woken young women said “I’m just really tired. I just need to get enough money to get a bed.”
I said “Are you a client at the Archer Project? I’m going there now.” She said “I’m not on spice.”, got up and walked away.
I didn’t know what to do next, but I was tempted to give her some money, although we are advised by charities not to give money in the street, and so we let her walk away.
I really don’t know if I could have done any more or that whatever what I did would have been the right thing to do but I know one thing, I’ll remember her face.