To mark World Homeless Day yesterday, I decided to learn more about their plight during a visit to the university city.
When I arrived I went in search of a homeless person selling the Big Issue, and it wasn’t long before I met Nick in Sidney Street, who had only one copy left.
“What’s your story?” I asked him.
And when he told me, I realised that what happened to Nick, could so easily happen to so many of us.
In 2001, Nick worked as a driver for the Post Office, he had a job and a home. One day he was involved in a terrible road accident and suffered devastating injuries which kept him off work for 18 months. When he returned to work, he developed mental illness. He then lost his job, followed by his home. He began sleeping rough – and still is, almost 10 years later.
Nick was chirpy and affable and as I left, a well dressed gent stopped by on his bike to check on him, a regular who it seems like to keep an eye on Nick.
As I sat down to have lunch in a coffee shop, I noticed the young man next to me bring out a copy of the Big Issue. He told me he bought it because his mum always did when he was a child. I hope Nick, and others like him, realise they do have supporters in the city.
I’m sure that now that the Big Issue founder John Bird is living in Cambridge, he will be aware about the fears of attacks faced by the city’s homeless and doing everything he can to help them.