Life on the street is rough. Justin Grant, 47, and Tanya Rees, 30, know this first-hand. The Plymouth, England couple of three years has been in dire straights for some time, as local hostels refuse to take them in as a pair.
They once lived in an apartment together; however, after being overdue on rent, they were kicked out onto the streets without enough money to pay a deposit on a new place.
For the past 18 months, they’ve been wandering the streets. Staying outside for so long takes a toll on them, especially during the winter months.
“It’s freezing and it makes me ill. My head’s all over the place, I can’t sleep, I’m so cold,” Rees told The Plymouth Herald.
The couple has had to shift from one location to another to protect themselves from not just the weather but aggressive passersby as well. One incident occurred at a local soup kitchen.
“I was fed up, tired and confused so I went with [Grant] into the soup kitchen and our things got stolen,” Rees explained.
“They took all my makeup—I only had a little bit because I do try. They also took my anxiety and depression tablets so I didn’t have them for a while. They took our last £8 which is a lot when you’re on the streets – it could have got us a nice coffee or something.”
They’re not only victims of theft but victims of abuse as well.
“I’ve been kicked in the face for no reason before,” Rees admitted. “You just feel like giving up on the streets. I’m just fed up of this – we’re good people, we don’t deserve to be on the streets.”
The Facebook page, “Help the homeless in Plymouth” concurred, calling their situation “unfair” and saying that they deserve “a warm and decent home.”
Fortunately, The Palace Theatre recently announced that its foyer will be open to the less fortunate, giving them a place to spend a few hours every night over the winter season. From 9:30 to 11:30 pm every night they offer free coats, hats, blankets, food, and hot drinks to anyone who needs them.
The theatre wanted to open more of its doors for longer but the city council forbade them from offering up certain rooms. According to an anonymous volunteer, they chose those hours because “there’s nowhere for anyone to go – many of the charities in the area close at 5 pm and they have nowhere.”
Now Rees and Grant have their “somewhere,” describing the Palace Theatre’s hospitality as the “best thing that’s happened” to them in ages!
Grant was rather pleased as well, saying, “In the evening there’s nowhere to go but you can come in here and have a hot drink, something to eat and a yap – it’s nice to be able to meet people,” he added.
Not only did they eat and socialize, they also got to pick out clothing. According to the “Help the homeless in Plymouth” Facebook page, Rees “got really excited when she seen the boots she now has on her feet, she was like a child at xmas asking if she could have them because she loved them.”
The couple is very appreciative that the theatre even gave them the time of day, let alone fed them and gave them supplies.
“It’s nice to come in and have someone talk to you that respects you rather than people looking down on you…it’s just amazing when you find people who actually care,” Rees said.
If you wish to donate clothes, sleeping bags, or food to the cause, visit the ‘Help the homeless in Plymouth’ Facebook page. You’ll be glad that you did.