‘Had it have not been for Simon noticing I didn’t look right, I wouldn’t be alive today’ - the debt one man owes Spike
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Those helped by 50 Backpacks are often among the first to come back and volunteer – and one of these is Geoff.
For without one man’s intervention, his life could have been cut short.
“Had it have not been for Simon noticing I didn’t look right, I wouldn’t be alive today,” said Geoff, who has worked with Simon Crowson since the charity launched.
Geoff, originally from Hastings in Sussex before moving to the Fens to be with his partner, suffers with sleep apnoea which means his breathing stops while he’s asleep, and he sleeps with a ventilator by his side.
After his partner died over two years ago, Geoff, 48, was made homeless before arriving at The Ferry Project, where he attended a key worker meeting with Simon.
“I went into my key worker meeting and the second I sat down, Simon turned round and said, ‘we’re stopping this meeting now because I’m calling you an ambulance’,” Geoff said.
“They rushed me to hospital and the consultant said, ‘I can’t understand why you’re not either dead or had a stroke. If you left it a few more hours, you would’ve been dead.’”
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Since then, Geoff has always looked up to Simon and has been an advocate for helping the homeless through volunteering.
In fact, it was Geoff who encouraged Simon to run 50 Backpacks after it was on the verge of closure.
“They wanted to close it down before and I’m passionate about homelessness because I’ve been there myself,” Geoff said. “I didn’t. I phoned Simon and said, ‘you need to take this on’.
“What we had was just a container, and he’s made it (50 Backpacks) into what it is today.”
Helping those in need has given Geoff happiness, something that has avoided him for some time, and with the community pulling together, he could not ask for anything more.
“He’s had a massive impact on my life. If it wasn’t for Simon, I’d be dead now,” he said. “I had one lady phone up and asked for a parcel, and she hadn’t been out of her house since Christmas Day. I cried after the phone call because she was so happy.
“The community spirit in this town is fantastic and it’s a good feeling to know the community is there for everybody.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Like all others in our series, Geoff’s real name has been withheld.