Remembering Stephen*

Well I’m not gonna lie and sugar coat it and say how great you were. Let’s face it you were damn hard work at times. I remember the first day I met you in Chorlton in March last year. You’d turned up with a couple of other lads that we already knew from Town. Yvette and I sat down and chatted to you guys for a while but you weren’t for talking to us.

You all only came to Chorlton for the weekend, you told us.  But you never left. You loved it here and said the people were so nice. It took a couple of months before you started to trust and talk to us. You told us all about your troubles, your past and your family.

We remember coming to work at 6.30am and seeing you sat out in the cold rain. I held your hand as you cried about your mum and your life (you cried on many occasions after that too). We got you some food, a drink and a change of clothes to get dry. And that freezing cold day in winter you called in.  It had been snowing. You were soaking wet and shivering. We gave you a hot drink, a change of clothes and told you to change in the back.

All the shouting we did at you – but you knew we only did it because we cared. We’ve shouted a lot at you the past few weeks and you knew you deserved it. But you still knew you could come to us.

You once said I was like ya Ma and that Becky was like ya Auntie and you told us that you loved us.  You never stopped telling us you love us. Whenever we’d get annoyed you stumble back up and stand there and say ‘ I love you ‘. 

You started to sort yourself out earlier this year. You were doing really well.  We all hoped you were going to be the success story. Then on July 5th I got that voice message from you. I still have it, saying you were back and you’ll come see me.

You always knew we’d be there to help and again we tried. We called Rachel and Jackie and we all tried.  But it wasn’t to be. You were angry and we understood why – you were doing so well and we were all proud but it wasn’t to be.

Jackie tried so hard to get you in doors the last few weeks and you were for two days last week. We’ve shouted at you a lot over the last few weeks but the last time I saw you you walked off, again saying I love you. I rolled my eyes and said ‘I love you too *******’, then again you replied ‘I love you’ and stumbled off.

That was the last time I saw you on Saturday.

You were around annoying Becky yesterday but I’m sure she’s glad you were. You said the other week I love you , Becky & Emily and I like Matt. You knew people cared and had more compassion and kindness shown in the past year than you’ve had in years, so I’m glad we met. When I heard of your death this morning I was ready to give up but then I realised even though it’s ended this way, what we did and what we still do, hopefully makes a difference.

Why are people in this day and age dying on our streets?
RIP my friend xxx”

With grateful thanks to everyone at Reach Out To The Community In particular to Steph for sharing and allowing this to be reproduced.

(*Real name not used).