I always get mixed feelings when I return to a city and run into a homeless person I know. I am glad to see a familiar face; often I build amazing relationships with people in a very short time. But knowing that in the months – or even years that I have been gone – we could not get this person off the streets messes me up. Such are my feelings reconnecting with Katie and Paul.
Back in July when I first visited London, I stopped and talked to Katie and Paul nearly every day during my stay. I gave them socks and bought them cheeseburgers, as I did with a small group of rough sleepers I befriended on the Strand. Being the weather is drastically colder now, I wasn’t sure if anyone I knew would still be sleeping rough.
Within a few hours of being back in London, I ran into Katie and Paul. I gave them hand warmers, which was a first for them. They love the hand warmers telling me they are “brilliant” and “lovely”. I’ve kept them stocked up on hand warmers and socks, which is nice, but we need to get this couple off the streets into a warm flat!
Paul told me everyone else I met this summer has moved on or is staying in a hostel (shelter), but because they are a couple, and hostels split up couples unless they are married (often, because a shelter does not have the facility for couples, even married couples have to live apart) they decided to sleep rough even during the bad weather.
Katie and Paul both have been on the streets for three years. What I didn’t know until this interview is they met on the streets and fell in love. Being candid, normally homeless romance rarely works out – yet there is something very different about these two. While on the streets, Paul has helped Katie get off the booze, and they both work hard at supporting each other throughout the day. The stress of homelessness is often too hard for relationships to bare. But I think these two are going to make it!
Katie and Paul are two amazing people who want to be together and do not want to be separated at any cost. Oh, and wait until you hear their third wish! A true love story right from the streets of London.