On a cold winter’s day, there’s no better feeling than stepping inside to warm up. Unfortunately not everyone has a place to turn to when it gets chilly.
Case in point: when Lee Pod of Retford, England was driving by St. Swithun’s Church recently, he noticed something.
A homeless bricklayer known only as “Ben” was standing out in the cold.
“I was driving through town on Monday night and saw Ben in a doorway,” he told Lincolnshire Live. “I looked at my phone and thought ‘it’s -1C here, this is not good.'”
Yet, when Pod and his mom, Louise Lane, went looking for Ben, said to be 53, he was nowhere to be found. According to itv, his body was found behind the church the next day. All of this could have been avoided if he’d had somewhere to go.
“I knew he didn’t want to go anywhere else,” said Pod. “He’d been beaten up and spat at in other towns and he wanted to stay in Retford but there was nowhere for him to go in the town.”
Wanting to ensure that this never happens again, Pod teamed up with Lane and Elisha Savage to start a new homeless shelter.
Ben’s story prompted the community to donate to a new shelter; the doors opened within two days.
The building for this shelter is owned by the Spiritualist Church where Savage is a member. It includes beds, hot food, drinks, toiletries, and even an Xbox hooked up to a projector. All of this was readily available from day one when the first guest was welcomed.
This first visitor wasn’t just someone who stumbled upon the shelter while walking the streets, though. Pod and company actually went into the neighboring town of Worksop to spread the word and take homeless people over to their shelter.
“A Retford lad came walking round the corner after he’d gone to the shelter there but it was closed,” said Lee. “So I said ‘you’re coming back to Retford with us’ – he couldn’t believe it.”
That guest was 34-year-old Chris Stockdale who had been homeless for 7 months. His first night in the shelter is a moment he’ll never forget.
“I was shocked!” Stockdale said. “I’m over-the-moon with [the shelter] … if anything it was a bit too warm; I had to ask them to turn the heating down!”
“Having a place like this in Retford is good … it’s a nicer town than Worksop and I want to be here.”
The shelter has remained stocked thanks to the continued donations of the community, including £100-worth of shopping every week from a local Morrisons grocery store. Community involvement like this ensures that the shelter should stay open for a long time.
While Ben may no longer be with the people of Retford, he lives on within their hearts. In life, he helped lay the foundation for people’s houses.
Yet in death he’s laid the foundation for change within his community, and now nobody in Retford will die without shelter.