Man spends every day of lockdown feeding the homeless

Man who feeds people living on the streets in Glasgow every day to give them ‘dignity’ claims lockdown has shown we’re all ‘only a couple of pay cheques from being homeless’ in moving Stacey Dooley documentary

  • Jonathan shares his story in BBC Three’s Stacey Dooley: Lockdown Heroes
  • Told how he rallied group of 30 volunteers to help feed the homeless in Glasgow
  • Says situation highlights how people only few pay cheques from being homeless
  • Stacey also meets charity worker based in Greece who chose to stay and help 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

A man who is spending lockdown making sure people living on the streets don’t go hungry reveals his mother was homeless when he was a baby in Stacey Dooley’s Lockdown Heroes.

For her latest BBC Three documentary, journalist Stacey – who is isolating in her London flat with boyfriend Kevin Clifton – reaches out to people across the country in search of those who are trying to help others. 

Jonathan, from Glasgow, told how homeless charities and street groups ‘stopped going out’ when the coronavirus hit in March.

Concerned that the homeless community, who usually depend on food handouts from passersby, would suffer as a result of lockdown, he rallied a group of kind volunteers.

Jonathan, from Glasgow, told how homeless charities and street groups ‘stopped going out’ when the coronavirus hit in March

Concerned that the homeless community, who usually depend on food handouts from passersby, would suffer as a result of lockdown, Jonathan rallied a group of kind volunteers

‘Every night we’re out making sure the homeless people of Glasgow are getting a hot meal,’ he told Stacey.

‘The coronavirus isn’t a problem for them, it’s the food. There’s no one buying them a sausage roll during the day, there’s no one giving them a few quid, no one buying them cheeseburgers, so I’ve been out every day since.’

Asked about his own experience with homelessness, Jonathan explained: ‘My mum was homeless when she was pregnant and when I was a baby. 

‘I didn’t know that until recently, because I don’t like to ask her a lot of questions about it when I was kid, because it wasn’t very good.

‘She’s doing well [now], she sometimes comes out and helps us on the street.’

Jonathan said his group has gone from five reliable, self-sacrificing volunteers to around 30, and he often makes up to 100 sandwiches a day (pictured)

Jonathan said his group has gone from five reliable, self-sacrificing volunteers to around 30, and he often makes up to 100 sandwiches a day.  

Speaking about his desire to help people on the streets, Jonathan said: ‘For myself it’s a question of dignity, it’s the right thing to do.

‘It just comes from a good place in everyone… everyone’s selfless. I think the thing as well just now, given the environment we’re in, you’re only a couple of pay cheques from being on the street.

‘People always say, “nah I’ll never be on the street,” blah blah blah. And now, if it wasn’t for mortgage holidays, you wouldn’t have a house anymore.’ 

During the documentary, Stacey also speaks to Freya, a charity worker based in Greece who chose to stay overseas and help others rather than return home to her family.

During the documentary, Stacey also speaks to Freya, a charity worker based in Greece who chose to stay overseas and help others rather than return home to her family

‘My family are in the UK, they have the NHS, they have each other,’ she said.

‘This kind of work doesn’t stop just because there’s a virus, and we still had to tackle all of the issues that we have to deal with day out before the virus, and we just have this on top of it now.’

She told how one lady from the camp on the island of Lesvos, which was built for 3,000 people and now has over 20,000 people living in it, gave birth in Athens before returning to the camp, where she was diagnosed with coronavirus. 

‘We think she probably picked it up in the hospital in Athens, and overnight they found 23 more cases in the same camp,’ Freya explained.

During the documentary, Stacey also speaks to Freya, a charity worker based in Greece who chose to stay overseas and help others rather than return home to her family

‘It’s going to spread so quickly because people are living so closely together. They still have to queue up for hours to get food very close together, they still have to queue to use showers and toilets that are difficult to keep clean. That’s a massive challenge.’

Asked by Stacey how she is feeling, Freya replied: ‘Scared. I’m very scared and worried and everything feels really big, but there are things that we can do and I am making it just a little bit better.’

Stacey also spoke to Charlotte, a textiles teacher turned scrub maker in Wigan, who’s busy churning out protective equipment with her furloughed friend Hannah, and has a backlog of orders to fill. 

Stacey also spoke to Charlotte, a textiles teacher turned scrub maker in Wigan, who’s busy churning out protective equipment with her furloughed friend Hannah, and has a backlog of orders to fill

She’s working 14 hour days for free, managing a team of 70 seamstresses to provide desperately needed equipment to frontline services. 

Those services include people like Serena and Richard, St John Ambulance volunteers who have joined thousands of others to help the health service manage the crisis.  

And in Croydon, junior doctor Zainab is working to support those struggling with the challenges of lockdown, and those recovering from the shock of being in intensive care.    

In Croydon, junior doctor Zainab is working to support those struggling with the challenges of lockdown, and those recovering from the shock of being in intensive care

‘We are seeing patients a lot less face-to-face, it’s very difficult to have that balance of looking after your patient and being there for them, but at the same time protecting them and protecting yourself in this new way of working,’ she said.

‘We are dealing with, I don’t want to say a loss of dignity, but a loss of self. You’’e having a lot of things done to you and you have no control over it because it’s the only way we can look after you. 

‘Things like having catheters put in place, things like being rolled over, being cleaned by someone else, when you’re used to doing all of these things yourself.’

Watch Stacey Dooley: Lockdown Heroes on the BBC iPlayer now. 

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