Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Citizenship

Businessman Offers Homeless Man Full-Time Job Instead of Spare Change

Why Global Citizens Should Care
More than 300,000 people in Britain are homeless or living in inadequate housing. But behind every statistic is a human being with their own unique story; albeit one that rarely makes the news. But this story did — and it’s prompted a valuable conversation about how we interact with homelessness. Take action with us here and help us fight the causes of poverty.

England out of the World Cup, thousands protesting Donald Trump in London —  Britain feels pretty desperate for an emergency shot of good vibes right now.

Step forward, Ryan Davidson and James Minns — your country needs you.

Take Action: Call on World Leaders to Decrease Preventable Deaths and Give Due Attention to Neglected Tropical Diseases

Davidson, 25, had been homeless and jobless for three years, and was sleeping rough on a street in Newcastle, England, when he asked Minns for spare change.

Instead, Minns offered him a job — and the story only gets better.

When Davidson approached him on July 5, Minns was out celebrating his 15th wedding anniversary with his wife and friends.

“James was walking past me, so I asked him for spare change,” Davidson said. “He stopped and seemed like a genuine, nice guy. We chatted for a while and then he said he had a company and could offer me a job — I couldn't believe it.”

Minns owns a paint-coating firm, and was looking for a new employee to work in his factory. He asked Davidson if he would accept a job if it was offered to him, and he replied, “100%.” The BBC reports that the pair shook hands, and agreed for Davidson to start first thing Monday morning.

Read More: 5 Ways to Help Homeless People During the Summer Heatwave

The businessman, 40, then shared their encounter on Facebook. It’s received over 16,000 likes and 5,000 shares in just a week — and was seen by Davidson’s aunt, who provided a telephone number to help Minns keep in touch. A local milkman even offered to pick Davidson up at 6.30 a.m. and drive him to the factory on his first day, according to the Mail Online.

But Davidson didn’t turn up.

He had stopped answering his phone the previous evening, and didn’t return Minns’ calls.

Yet the next day, Davidson arrived at work bang on time — and impressed Minns with his work ethic.

Davidson told Minns that he had an emergency housing appointment on Monday morning, and had been unable to contact him after he ran out of phone credit.

It highlights a practical reality of how homelessness functions in an unbreakable cycle — if you don’t have a permanent residence, everything from filling out a form to handle a phone contract to finding some free internet becomes much more challenging.

Read More: Britain Could End Homelessness Within a Decade, Says Leading Charity

Davidson had been looking in vain for housing for two years. Now, he’s told Minns that he would save his first paycheck to put towards a bond for his own permanent housing. In response, Minns has set up a crowdfunding page to help him out. The original target of £500 has already been tripled.

“He is an amazing man, Im lucky to have found him,” Minns said. “He is a grafter, which is hard to come by these days. I believe he will keep this up. He is doing all of the right things.”

Davidson’s life without a home is a reality for 307,000 people living in temporary housing or none at all, according to homelessness charity Shelter. It’s an increase of 13,000 from the previous year, and equates to 1 in 200 of the entire population.

And while his story is exceptional, it appears that for the rest of the country, the situation is only getting worse: Since 2010, there has been a 169% increase in the number of people sleeping rough in England.

Kindness is beautiful and essential; but unless it’s reflected in political action, it can only ever be reactive. Homelessness is higher than it’s ever been in Britain — and a Guardian investigation has found that the number of homeless people who have died has doubled in the past five years.

Therefore the story of Ryan Davidson and James Minns is way more important than something just to lift us up. Instead, it must be a lesson to teach us how to stay there.

"I love my job and everybody has made me feel so welcome,” Davidson said. “We're like one big happy family.”