Jessica’s story Homeless Help Hunger Sex for Sale Vulnerable Reality
I finished late last week at the Youth Club. Riz was still working late most probably through the night looking at potential bids and grants available for the Youth Club. I stepped out and closed the metal gates. I was fuming, just had another argument with him. Previously when I had thought about running a charity I had visions of team work and everyone pulling together little did I realise I had an ego and we would fight like cats and dogs, lose friendships and take matters personally. I guess I should have seen this coming with the limited funds and so many causes that need our help.
Riz has just come up with an “idea” of going to France to the asylum jungles and distributing blankets. I laughed it off after all many people statistics showed that people who successfully receive asylum still are more likely to end up on the streets as homeless and I thought he knew that…
I lost the argument to his many reasons. I was still running our conversation through my mind as I closed the gates to the Youth Club. I wasn’t expecting a shrill voice enquiring.
“Do you want some business?” I looked around and saw a young lady possibly in her late 30s but her weathered face belied her years. She wore and oversized thick fake fur lined coat and it was then I realised that it was a cold night.
I laughed at her question and said without thinking “Honey I am a businessman”. To my horror, I realised the meaning behind what I said after I uttered the words.
She clutched a samosa and asked, “Do you want some?”
I pretended to fumble with the lock on the gate to buy myself some time and hopefully she would walk away but she didn’t.
I thanked her for offering me her samosa and politely declined as I tried to walk past her.
She enquired. “So, you work here?” It was at this point I decided to take the initiative and asked.
“How can I help?”
“Well if you have £30 that would be nice” she was bobbing on her feet to stay warm.
I explained I did not have that sort of money but would be happy to buy her some food.
“God you’re a gentleman she laughed want to buy me dinner before we have sex?”
I stated that I did not want sex but was willing to buy some food if she needed some.
She explained that she just had a samosa from a local chip shop who kindly gave it to her and didn’t want any food.
As she spoke I managed to gather myself and introduced myself “Hi I’m Thariq listen I’m in a rush it’s been a long day how can I help? “
“My name is Jessica Can I get a lift?” she enquired I want to get to my home my mate is there and he’s sick.”
I threw caution to the wind and against my better judgement I offered her a lift. She seemed to enjoy the warmth of the car as we drove and eagerly gave instructions, now I am not familiar with Walsall and I may have driven up a few no entry roads, but that was Jessica’s navigating skills.
Whilst driving I was confused I felt slightly fearful for all I could determine Jessica was a possible street person, a homeless young lady, vulnerable, surviving through offering sex to men who would pay her and what would she do with the money, a possible addict.
I looked at Jessica as I steered the car, what makes a woman stoop so low? I thought, then became cross with myself for having such a condescending thought, maybe, she was a victim of domestic violence, should I ask her these fleeting thoughts came and passed as quickly. Jessica directed me to an ASDA carpark the lightning there revealed the scar on her cheek possibly from a fight and countless other scrapes she most have got into.
To my surprise and relief as I did think I was being set up to be robbed, Jessica was telling the truth she did sleep in the stairwell of an Asda car park and there was another gentleman much older whose hands trembled uncontrollably as he tried to light up a rollup.
Jessica introduced me as a “nice man” and before I left, I wanted to look a bit cool, I guess and not as a hopeless taxi driver who thought twice about having illegal sex. I blurted out.
“What do you guys think about giving blankets to asylum seekers and refugees in France?” I explained that the original camp had been destroyed by the authorities and now they had moved to Dunkirk. I added I wasn’t happy about the potential, negative, political fallout if we are seen to support people who are trying to illegally enter the country.
What ensued was surreal. I sat on the stairs of the stairwell Jessica and her friend John sat opposite. We almost forgot the cold, Jessica lit up a cannabis joint, normally my professionalism would have told me to walk away but then I thought she’s cold, hungry, and probably has one friend and I’m possibly the only guy she must have met who wants her opinion on matters of strategic importance for Humanity Gives. So I stayed put.
The response was a definite “Yes” that we should go as Jessica put it succinctly. “The cold kills everyone and doesn’t care about who you are.” John agreed with her as he clutched his blanket and tugged at it sharply, I understood this as an attempt to get rid of me. I had overstayed my welcome.
I reached into my wallet and passed Jessica £30 that she asked for, hopefully she will spend it on food but I just paid her for her consultancy.