It's just me and my girlfriend Mala. Here we are. We're real and all that.
And Pepe. Pepe needs a little bit of our help to get off the street. We don't have a picture of Pepe - yet.
Myself and Mala met Pepe one evening while he sat alone, weeping quietly, outside Kentish Town station. He wasn't asking anyone for anything, head propped up on hunched legs. When I opened by asking whether we could help with anything he looked right at me, caught his breath, and said: 'a new life?'.
There are so many homeless people in London now - everyone knows it's much worse than it was - you can't possibly stop and speak with everyone. But when you do, you often hear almost mundane stories of bad luck, maltreatment and bureaucratic obstinance.
Pepe's was no different. Suddenly sacked from his pizza delivery job after being robbed on a round, and accused of thieving himself, he soon lost his home. Having lost his passport in the robbery, he had no way of accessing support or getting a new job (hostile environment in action) - despite being Italian and entitled to work and benefits.
To get a new passport there's a fee of £200. No ifs, no buts. So - no passport.
And so: destitution, homelessness. Indignity and sadness. Pepe told us that if he was hit by a bus no-one would know. That's what being alone is.
All because of bad luck, maltreatment and the Immigration Act 2014.
So, with your help, we're going to sort Pepe's passport fee and help him help himself off the street before the winter arrives.
Here's the plan:
- Myself and Mala make up the first £50.
- With the help of you good people, we'll make up the remaining £150 in no time.
- We call Pepe (we have his number), and arrange to meet him at the Italian embassy (we'll take a selfie to prove it). The money goes straight to the officials.
- Pepe gets his passport.
- Pepe gets on with the rest of his life.
Pepe has no idea about this plan (that's why we don't have a photo of him, which is a shame). He asked us for nothing. He tried to hand back some of the £20 we offered him on the spot to get him into a hostel for a couple of nights. He's legit. You'll have to trust us on that one.
We're legit too. No picture of us and Pepe at the embassy, and your money back.
We've never tried anything like this before. Help us prove it's not a shit idea. Thanks