John, 29 years old, from Almelo

John is 29 years old and ‘resides’ in Almelo. Since September 2019 he has been living on the streets. A few weeks prior to this interview, he became a father. He still hasn’t seen the newborn. This is a choice he himself made, because – for him – it’ll be much harder to say ‘goodbye’ whilst not knowing when he’ll see the child again. 

He wanted to start a business regarding furniture. He financed and invested  mostly by himself, but the money that had to come for the banks, never arrived, which left John with debts. This escalated, which led to him seeking shelter with friends and family, until he wasn’t welcome anymore. 

The authorities haven’t been exactly kind to him. He has been entitled to alimony for months, but every time he reports it, he is not answered. Now he’s been told on January 27, 2020 that he indeed is entitled to an alimony and that this will be paid to him retroactively. When this will happen is not yet clear.

At the moment he is sleeping outside, in the parking garage at the train station in Almelo. He  said: “I am lucky enough to be allowed to sleep in the parking garage.” The shelter has no place for him, in view of him not being addicted and it not being cold enough outside. They’ll only have place when it’s around freezing point. He occasionally smokes a joint and occasionally takes amphetamine to help relieve him from his childhood traumas.

He had a difficult childhood. A difficult home situation. He says that he simply had bad luck  and that this is partly the reason why he lives on the street. He sensed this 5 years ago, but also feels that he can bear this problem. Before going back to work, he wants to deal with his pain. He first wants to solve this bit by bit, so that it no longer gets in his way. Only after that, he’s able to function well in his next work.

On january 18 at about 3.30 pm, John was lying against my house . He was sitting there on a bag that contained all his possessions. I greeted him (a bit wary) and asked if I could do something for him. He said he just sat here for a while. The conversation got going and I asked him if he was homeless. That was indeed the case. He came across as a sympathetic young man and looked sweet and kind. He draws and paints in a small sketchbook to pass the time. It lets you skip a few hours a day.“

When I asked if I could bring something for him, for example a shirt, he said: “No, that is very sweet of you, but I have to carry all that and I already have such a heavy bag. Maybe you just have a little drink for me?” I was on my way to my parents. I told them about me meeting him and immediately a bag was being filled with something to eat and drink. I added a note with the text: “Hi John, thanks to my parents you have something to eat and drink. Enjoy it. Keep drawing! Good luck and hopefully better times will arrive soon! Love Fleur.”

The moment I cycled home again, he was still there. He had been waiting for me. I gave him the bag and he was so thankful! In disbelief he looked in a bag and thanked me with a big hug and wanted to keep the door open for me, so that I could get in by bike more easily.

That evening I quickly worked out questions for the interview in the hope that I would meet him again and ask these questions to him. Well, I don’t believe in coincidences. The next morning I saw him sitting on a bench and I was able to ask him the questions. I sat there with him for almost 2 hours. It was a beautiful and emotional conversation for both of us. Such a sensitive man. His intuition, his view of the world, a lot of people can learn from that. We still laughed at the fact that some people thought he was crazy when he talked about the spiritual and his guides. I myself believe in this, but I also told him that I understood that some people thought he was weird when he told them these stories. He also understood that himself. He says most people are not ready for it. After the interview I thanked him for this wonderful conversation. He got water paint and brushes from me (beautiful artists among each other).

I hadn’t seen him for a few days, but I still wanted to offer him a shower at my place. I was moving anyway, no one lived in that house anymore. Last Monday I bumped into him again. He also hoped to come across me again, because he wanted to paint me a painting as a thank you. I asked him if he wanted to shower on Tuesday. He really wanted that! So on Tuesday he had a nice shower. He said it felt like he was coming out of a pool. He painted a painting for me that genuinely came from his heart. It’s a beautiful keepsake. I asked for his phone number, because you never know what else I can do for him through the Everyday People foundation and myself.

For me this was a very nice and special experience and I will certainly commit myself more often to things like this. Doesn’t matter how.