Around this time last year I was walking home from Balans in Chelsea with my boyfriend after stuffing my face with Eggs Benedict when a woman walking in front of us suddenly collapsed. We ran to help her and insisted on calling an ambulance but she begged us not to. She was shaking and fighting back tears. I thought she might have blood sugar issues so I ran to the corner store and got an orange juice while my boyfriend stayed with her. When I came back, she was still sitting on the sidewalk with her laptop case and after having the juice, she seemed to calm down. That’s when I noticed her trousers were a little frayed and her trainers almost worn through.
We started to talk to her. As it turned out, she hadn't eaten in a few days. She had been made redundant from her estate agent job several months back and was struggling to feed herself and was staying in hostels when she could get enough money together. She had been in the Brompton library searching for jobs online, but it’s hard to find employment when you don’t have an address.
I burst into tears. I had been made redundant two years before and it took me four months to find another job. I hardly had any savings and it was one of the most stressful times of my life. But I had friends, a boyfriend and a family back home that I knew would help me if I needed it. This woman didn't have that safety net that I took for granted.
We offered to get her some lunch but she declined. She also refused to take any money from us and actually dug in her bag to find change to pay me for the orange juice. She was proud, which I understood but I managed to distract her and my boyfriend slipped some money into her laptop bag. She did thank us for talking to her, because she hadn't had a real conversation with anyone in a long time.
She finally convinced us she was OK and got up to walk the rest of the way to her hostel. I went home and cried some more. It kills me to think that there are people out there who don’t get to enjoy food and just look at getting enough nutrition to survive. I know the world isn't perfect and there isn't a way to fix everything, so I wanted to think of what I could do that very day. A few weeks earlier my family had asked for a Christmas list and the only thing I could think of putting on there was a £900 pair of Jimmy Choo boots. That’s when I realized I actually didn't need anything.
Christmas is about giving and people want to give you stuff. I emailed my family and asked them to get me food, my favourites from home: Beefaroni, Kraft Dinner, Chewy Chips Ahoy etc and I would give it to the food bank. It didn't fly as well as I hoped, mostly because everyone had already got me something.
But this year I hope it’s different. I started earlier and asked that at least 50% of my gift from anyone would be food I could donate to the food bank. Meet me halfway, you know? I don’t like to dictate gift giving, that’s kind of the opposite of what a gift is supposed to be, but I hope they understand how much this means to me and add a can of Beefaroni to my stocking.
I wasn't going to post this because I figure if you are going to do something, just do it, don’t sit there and write a blog post about it. But then I thought, if even one other person reads this and does the same thing that would make a difference to at least one hungry family in a place that I've probably never been to. And that would be awesome.
So, instead of those amazing boots, why not ask for a can of Beefaroni for Christmas?
Also, I've been away from the blog for a while but have a really good reason. If you want to know why, you can click here . I'll be back soon with some more awesome restaurants.