This afternoon I was just walking into Brixton as I do most days. On the Brixton Road were about six police vans outside the estate on the other side of the road. The pavement was packed with police and people shouting as they prepared to raid some flats in the block.
A frail looking man in a puffa coat and beanie hat was trying to make his way through the crowds. He got knocked over in the commotion and seemed to be having difficulty getting up again. Despite there being nearly a hundred people on that pavement he was being ignored.
So I crossed over and helped him up myself. He was a lot younger than I was expecting. 38 to be exact. As I was helping him get up it became clear the reason he was having so much trouble was due to the fact he had a prosthetic leg.
As we made our way through the crowds it was then he revealed that he was homeless. We walked towards Brixton town centre and he told me he’d lost his leg whilst serving in Iraq. Upon his return he’d lost his job and also the accommodation that he was given. After hospital treatment had finished he had no where to go and eventually ended up on the streets.
As we passed a cafe I offered to buy him a sandwich and a bottle of water which he accepted and as we reached the high street we went our separate ways.
The cynical amongst us would assume this man may have spun me a story. I’ll never know, nor care if it was true. Because regardless this is a man who was in need and no one wanted to help him. And if giving him a sandwich means he’s less hungry tonight then who cares if he wasn’t an ex-soldier.
If he was a soldier and lost his leg in Iraq which therefore left him homeless, jobless and alone, then that’s very sad indeed. But I’m not getting into the politics about the Iraq War because what this is really about is that a fellow human being fell over on the street and was being looked down on as if he was some what inferior, so not worth helping back up.
To me, that’s the true tragedy.