Sunday 29 May 2022

We can be angels with and of change

A scarcity of loose change

To the many disadvantaged and destitute in my city, I can only imagine how the pandemic and technological advancements have affected them. For instance, I used to have some change in pound coins or lesser value coins in my pocket somewhere that I could give when asked for some help.

I can think of the many times that I have not been able to give any change nor had the immediate means to collect and handle money physically. Everything is now done electronically either online or through contactless payments.

There was a time I was approached by one man who said he needed something to eat, I was just passing by a fish & chip shop, so, having my mobile phone that could complete a transaction, I put in an order for a meal and drink, paid for it and told him to collect when done. It probably is easier to just ask before I go into a supermarket if someone needs anything, and I get it for them, with a little extra.

Not much change for many

It is the little one can do because even the charities and social services are stretched, they almost always do not have enough places, beds, supplies or the essentials to meet the demands, and even if the supplicants did qualify many have to go through too many hurdles that humiliate and dehumanise them to get the bare necessities, if at all.

Direct help in my view is useful, if anything, it reminds us all, that we have the poor amongst us and that the milk of human kindness and angelic provision still exists in our tough times and tougher, if sometimes, indifferent society. I have purposed not just to give change, but to give money that can do something, to get a meal or a bed for the night, sometimes even more.

Change given without any judgement

Leaving church earlier, I was accosted by someone who wanted money for a meal, I could not even imagine if he had had a meal recently, but I had a monetary note in my wallet and as I was trying to get it, he went on about him only needing it for food, not for drugs or for alcohol. It is that person's prerogative what they use the money I give them for. Obviously, I would rather they applied to use and care rather than abuse, but that is left to them.

As I gave him the money, I told him, I am not here to judge you. It is an evolving lesson of maturing, if I dare, some empathy, that I would constantly entertain, I do not want to stand in judgement because I have means, opportunity, or privilege.

I know what it is to fall on hard times and I am grateful for all those who pulled me through those almost impossible circumstances, I have been blessed abundantly beyond words I can find to express, the much that I have enjoyed.

Give more than just change

Further down the road, a lady smiled at me from under her sleeping bag in the doorway of a building on one of main shopping streets and I determined to do something about that brief encounter, for I smiled back.

I walked up the road to find an automatic teller machine (ATM) and there were none for a good stretch of what is a commercial street. Banks are closing and removing the heretofore ubiquitous ATMs that they are becoming quite scarce to find. I had committed in my intentions to give her something, so, I walked back on myself to find an ATM, even that had a notice that it would be removed in just over 3 weeks.

That would mean that for most of the length of Deansgate in Manchester, there would be no ATMs, how and why that is allowed to happen is perturbing and disconcerting.

We are angels of change

However, I did get some money and walked back up to the lady and gave it to her. I probably should cultivate another thing; the habit of conversation and learning more about the people I have helped, for they all have a human story that I am usually disinterested in.

There is gratitude and uncertainty that crosses their faces, they cannot believe the generosity in the first place and wonder if I am sure I want to give them whatever I have given. I understand their plight, but I assure them, in the worst-case scenario, they have been visited by an angel. That seems to assure them, for whether we acknowledge it or not, we all seem to believe in angels, and that my friends, is a very good thing.

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