Stuart (Tom Hardy) and Alexander (Benedict Cumberbatch)
Photo credit: http://www.benedictcumberbatch.co.uk/stuart-a-life-backwards/
Stuart: A Life Backwards will always have a special place in my heart, for reasons I will be disclosing in the not too distant future.
Stuart had multiple challenges in his life, but one of the key ones was that he was homeless. This year I have been doing something that I had always intended to do but in the past I have always been "too busy". I have been helping out at two shelters for the homeless, both Church-run, the All Souls's Winter Shelter and Croydon Minster's Floating Shelter.
To cut to the chase, I have enjoyed the work immensely. I enjoy the befriending aspect but also serving others. I have made good friends amongst the other volunteers and I hope to have connected with some of our guests. For the first time in my life, after a public service career of over 20 years, I have felt that I am doing something that is worthwhile and that helps others. It has been amongst the most rewarding work I have ever done. I have now decided to commit to helping out at a Day Centre for the homeless on a regular basis.
Tonight, Sunday, was the closing night for both the All Souls and the Croydon Minster Shelters as they only operate during the winter months. I wanted to be at both venues, but even I can't be at two places simultaneously! In the end I went to Croydon because I had committed to be there, but I missed my own Church's shelter too. However, I realised I had made the right choice when we had an impromptu birthday party for one of our guests and one of the curates treated us to a rendition of "roll out the barrel" on the piano!
The strong message that I wanted to convey was that homeless people are just normal people like you or I; they just do not have a roof over their heads at this point in their lives for a myriad of reasons. At the end of the day, I myself would be on the streets now were it not for my parents providing me with some much needed financial help.
If anyone is thinking about doing this sort of work, I would definitely encourage them to give it a go. For me personally, I got more out of the experience than I put in and I found the work very rewarding.
My feature on Stuart is here: