On the way back to our car in Southampton today we found a grubby pink clutch purse in the layby. It was packed with receipts and, fortunately, a prescription with a local address on it. There were no credit cards, but a school pass for a young girl called Kennedy.
We drove to the address and to say it was neglected was an understatement. The front door looked open, but the young boy who opened the upstairs window to answer our knock explained that it was bolted and that we’d have to push it after he’d unbolted it.
The stench of poverty and neglect filled our nostrils as the door opened and the young boy and his slightly older sister stood there. We handed over the clutch purse and the girl ran excitedly into another room shouting “Mum, Mum, someone’s found Kennedy’s bag”. Whilst this was happening, we left.
For the first time in a long time, we both regained a sense of what real poverty was, along with renewed gratitude for what we had. But more than anything, our hearts went out to those poor children; so polite and trusting and having to live in those conditions.
No one deserves to live like that – and it’s especially hard to see children growing up in those circumstances. But actually going into that situation today, seeing and smelling the poverty made me realise just how easy it is for us to turn a blind eye, distance ourselves and pretend these things aren’t happening in our ‘civilised’ society.