I’ve been working in central Bristol these last few months, and unfortunately for my wallet, the office is less than five minutes’ stroll from the wonders of Fopp. As my CD collection has inexorably grown over the months, I’ve come to know something of the chap who flogs The Big Issue outside the Lord Mayor’s Chapel, which is right next door to Fopp.
Most days we have a chat, and we often chin-wag for some time if the weather allows. He’s a cheery fella, and I’ve learned that he does a lot for the homeless community in Bristol. He and a mate have plans for later this summer; they are going to walk about 1100 miles (that’s 2.2 Proclaimers) from Lands End to John O’Groats. No mean feat. I asked Garry what the funds raised would pay for, he thought a few moments, and said, “Well, the last time we did a walk (this is the Big One – they’ve done two shorter walks before) we raised enough to pay for about 65 Birth Certificates.”.
It took a few seconds for the penny to drop. This huge effort is designed to pay, amongst other things, for identity papers for his homeless compadres in Bristol. This will ease people’s battles with the serpentine depths of Austerity Britain’s bureaucracy, and in Garry’s own case, was one of the ways in which he re-established his own legal identity after devastating set-backs that would have floored me. This guy knows the score; he’s been there and knows how to help himself, and others, to climb back out.
In these days when we are invited to loll back on the soaf and watch TV where someone pitches for unimaginable amounts of investment so that they can sell quinoa sandwiches with an artisan twist, it’s inspiring to meet someone who spends their days doing real, practical, hard slog things to better themselves and their peers in humble yet life-changing ways.
So apart from singing his praises here, I’d like to invite you to pitch in a few quid and raise their fundraising total a little closer to (or even beyond!) the target they’ve set themselves.