The Sock Mob kicked off its summer picnic season with a lovely food and football session in St James’ Park on Sunday 15th May, where street friends were invited to take part and enjoy. Here is one mobber’s account of the fun:
Before I started to write about an event which took place in St James Park I had concerns about who would want to read about a game of football and a picnic. After all, half of the participants of this event were people who lived on the streets of London. The remainder of the group were from ‘The Sock Mob’ and their families.
No Rooney or Messi to comment on, just a bunch of people trying to break down barriers was all I had to write about.
So let me try and tell you about that day. It’s not about who ate what or who scored a goal. It goes much deeper than that.
The first thing which struck me as I arrived was the amount of people who had turned up; there must have been thirty people or more. Oh, and a dog called Doug, a very supportive member of the Sock Mob. There was no distinction between those who were homeless or from the Sock Mob. Everyone just gelled together, laughing, chatting and just having fun. The way friends do.
There was food from around the world, from noodles and hot chilli beef from South Korea made by Mr Oyhoon, to the delightful tasty flapjacks made by hand from ‘Man.’ And let’s not forget the fruit, cakes, sandwiches, salad and soft drinks given out by other members of the Sock Mob, whose names are too many to mention.
It was time for the ‘Big Match’ to start. Was it going to be a war? Broken legs and limbs, punched-in faces? The whistle was blown, or it would have been if there had been a referee. The fight, I mean the game, began. Yes, the game was fought hard but without malice. Players were brought down and there was pushing and shoving. But handshakes and smiles or helping your opponent from the ground was the most important thing on a person’s mind after such a tackle.
For an hour, men and women joked about other players’ performances. Great goals were scored and saved. What made that hour different from any other hour in those players’ day was that we started that game as fourteen separate individuals. It ended with friendships being made and a group of people coming together as one. This theme of friendships being made continued throughout the day.
To some this may not seem your idea of a fun day. After all, a bunch of people kicking a ball and stuffing their faces with food is not to everyone’s liking. Especially when you think that half of these people are supposed to be on drugs and drink and not having that Armani smell. And the other half are just a bunch of ‘do- gooders’.
But let me leave you with this thought: ‘If we never looked at an old book because its cover was dusty and the pages looked dirty to touch, think how we would have missed out in reading such greats as Shakespeare or Tolkien; poets like Blake or Wordsworth.’
The man or lady you next see sitting on the pavement alone may resemble the cover of that old book. But believe me, go and talk to that person, let them be your storyteller. Listen to how they became the unwanted souls of London’s pavements and doorways.
We all need to have that human touch in our life; a person to talk to, or a warming smile at times. Just to let us know we are not alone. The Sock Mob are not a bunch of ‘do-gooders’: they are just a group of people who care about the situation of the homeless and try to give them that human touch.
As for the homeless people we see everyday sitting alone or with a friend, they don’t bite, or behave in strange ways. Deep down, they are the same as you and me, a human being with a life story that is a bit different from ours. That’s all.
Not every day in the life of a homeless person is like the picnic and football match, and why should it be? However, without the efforts of everyone there that day; where barriers were broken down, the plight of the homeless may never have been heard or told. Maybe their memories and thoughts would have just died within their souls. Why not just spend a little time getting to know someone’s story? Look up the Sock Mob: www.sockmob.org.uk
I can’t go without saying a special thank you to Toby and Catherine who made this day happen with the help from the members of the Sock Mob and the members of the streets of London. I had a day I will never forget.