Homelessness in the U.K. increased for the seventh year in the row in 2018 as charities do what they can to curb an epidemic which is spiraling out of control.
But when one thoughtful businessman met a 25-year-old homeless man called Ryan in the north of England, their casual chat turned into something special.
Ryan was agreeable enough, even if he wasn’t a great student or an overachiever. Family life for Ryan was unstable, which is when he started drinking. Before long, like so many others, Ryan’s life spiraled out of control and he found himself sleeping on the streets of Newcastle.
The recent release of official government figures shows a sevenfold increase in consecutive years of homelessness on the streets of the U.K. According to the government, 4,750 people were sleeping on the streets in 2017, an increase of 15 percent from the previous year.
Not just London
While London, the capital of England, had the highest rates of homelessness in the country, with an 18 percent increase in recent years, the north-west of England has also seen a spike. In places such as Tameside, Salford, and Manchester, homelessness has doubled in just two years and quadrupled since 2010.
Spare Some Change?
Spare some change in the form of a question from a complete stranger is becoming more and more commonplace in England due to rising homelessness. People who need food, or hot drinks, and in many cases cigarettes or drugs aren’t bashful when it comes to approaching strangers, and Ryan wasn’t deterred by the constant rejection.
Stroke of Luck
It was just a normal day for Ryan, or so he assumed. When he walked up to James and asked him kindly for some change, he didn’t realize that his life could potentially change for the better. This good samaritan happened to be in a generous mood that day, lucky for Ryan.
Celebrating Good Times
Perhaps it because James was in Newcastle that day celebrating his wedding anniversary to his beloved wife, along with two friends that he was so nice to Ryan. Many beers had been consumed when the two met, and that boded very well for Ryan.
James was in a good mood, and in his capacity as a successful businessman, it took little effort for him to part with a crisp £20 note so that Ryan could eat and drink something that day. But it was what happened next that makes this story a whole lot more interesting.
The Sob Story
It’s hard to know the truth in a situation where a perfect stranger approaches you and asks you for money. Nevertheless, Ryan’s sob story was plausible, as he shared with James that he had been out of work and homeless for the past three years. On top of that, he said, he had zero contact with any of his family.
It’s for you to decide whether Ryan’s meeting that day with James was a chance encounter or not; what’s for sure is that it was a shining light in an otherwise dark world for Ryan. “James was walking past me, so I asked him for spare change,” Ryan said. “He stopped and seemed like a genuine, nice guy. We chatted for a while and then he said he had a company and could offer me a job — I couldn’t believe it.”
A photograph of the rendezvous between these two strangers was posted on Facebook and almost immediately garnered some serious social media love in the form of 4,000 shares and 11,000 comments.
One Simple Question
Having chatted on the street for a little while, James had one simple question for Ryan. “I saw Ryan’s big smile and we started talking,” James told reporters, “If you were offered a job, would you take it?” James asked. Ryan replied by saying, “100 percent.”
The Job Offer
James founded a successful paint-coating company, and with that in mind he went ahead and offered Ryan a job on his factory floor. Ryan shook hands with his new boss and agreed to show up for work nice and early the very next week.
James spoke to reporters in the U.K. about the response his job offer received on Facebook, “I logged into my Facebook on Friday and there were hundreds of notifications and thousands of friend requests – I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
James got so many positive comments from Facebook users who reached out to him offering encouragement. “Fingers crossed he takes the opportunity,” posted one Facebook user. A different post read: “Our county needs more companies like you to believe in these people.”
The story got even better when Ian Cutts, a local milkman, offered to pick Ryan up and give him a lift to the factory for his first day at work. But when Cutts arrived to pick Ryan up from an agreed location, Ryan was a no-show.
Everyone wanted this touching story to end happily, but it soon turned to heartache and regret. James hit his Facebook page the very next day, posting, “Morning everyone, unfortunately, Ryan didn’t show up … Cutts was there at 6.30am to pick him up. Waited 30 mins and he didn’t show. I’ve rung him several times and got no answer too. Totally gutted tbh.”
Not His Fault
As it happens, the story does take a turn for the better. Ryan wasn’t being lazy after all. Due to an emergency housing appointment he had that Monday morning, and having no way to contact James, he was unable to speak to explain the situation.
First Day at Work
The very next day, Ryan was on James’ factory floor nice and early. Ryan told reporters that his first day on the job couldn’t have gone better. “I am so grateful to James,” he said. “I love my job and everybody has made me feel so welcome. We’re like one big happy family.”
The job offer was only the tip of the iceberg though as a Gofundme page was set up to get Ryan some permanent housing; and guess who’s spearheading the effort, James of course. “We are going to use the proceeds to find Ryan permanent housing,” he said.
Faith in Humanity
It’s so nice to read a story of hope like this in this day and age with all the negative news stories out there. Ryan’s faith in humanity has been firmly restored, having been bowled over by the response and kindness. “It has opened my eyes to how generous and kind people can be,” he said. “I’ve never met anyone like James — he has changed my life completely.”