A Chichester man who helps the homeless has been left ‘overwhelmed’ after they bought him lunch as a thank you.
Steven Payne, who previously space hopped across the alps to raise awareness of the homeless, dedicates one day a week to working with them.
He said: “Most of the local homeless people know that on a Monday I will be in town if they need anything out of the ordinary and have a good reason.
“I make sure I am fairly easy to spot.... not difficult if you travel on a penny farthing.”
He told how a typical Monday involved buying someone a burger from the street vendor in town or buying a return bus ticket to help someone see family, yet last Monday saw his day take a different turn.
As a thank you for Steven’s generosity a group of the people he has helped clubbed together to take him out for lunch.
He added: “A whole group of them were waiting in town and took me for lunch in Subway!
“They had all been saving up, and I was a bit overwhelmed to get the offer.
“They all made a point of wearing the clothes, boots, hats and shoes I (and you) have been able to buy them over the winter to keep warm and dry.”
Speaking in general terms about the issue of homelessness, Steven told how he wants to dispel preconceived opinions, saying that most are ‘just ordinary people’.
He said: “They’re not all drug dealers or alcoholics they’re just ordinary people. I have been fortunate to help them out.
“I was quite surprised when they said ‘we would like to take you out for lunch’.
“It was amazing really. How can you really get your head round the fact really that some one who’s got £3.60 in their pocket will spend £2.80 of that on somebody they don’t really know.
“It’s more than half their available resources on somebody else.
“It makes you feel very humble.”
In a Facebook post which gained nearly 500 reactions Steven thanked those who had helped his cause.
He added: “Thanks to all those of you that have passed on donations of warm clothing, or have given me tents, bags, DVDs or other unwanted items to sell, or have bought my old ‘junk’ for £2.69..... You know who you are, and there are many of you.
“I hope you can see what a difference it has made to these people to have warm, dry feet and a warm, dry place to sleep each night, it has certainly put a temporary smile on their faces.
“They would have liked to thank you all in person, but they do not know to whom they are indebted, and so they passed it on through me.”
Steven also thanked Blacks Outdoor Retail in Chichester who give him a discount on walking boots for the homeless.
If you are interested in helping Steven, email firstname.lastname@example.org
In agreement with Steven Payne we have modified the photo to protect the identities of those he is lunching with.