Words by Smiley Team
Since launching an initiative to help homeless people, father of two Verral Paul-Walcott has gone on become an increasingly valuable member of his community. In light of his extensive efforts, Verral recently won a Heart of the Hale Award, which recognised him as a local hero.
After delivering basic necessities and comforts to homeless people, the solution-focused man invented a special currency for which north Londoners can use to purchase food or drink for others less fortunate than themselves on a pay-it-forward basis.
As soon as people caught wind of Verral’s willingness to help others, progressively more people have got in touch with him for support, so that now he receives up to 10 requests a day.
He tells Smiley News: “What's happening is my community are engaging with people sleeping rough. They tell them they know someone that can help them, passing information through to me, such as requests for socks or trainers.”
The requests Verral receives are many and varied, from deprived families needing school uniforms to women facing domestic abuse.
Providing food and clothing to those unable to access it, he often steps in where state support or charities have failed. From the requests he receives, he’s realised that there are many households in poverty who cannot visit a food bank- either out of shame or for practical reasons.
He says: “For example, waiting at a food bank for hours is extremely difficult for a child who has learning difficulties like autism.”
Meanwhile, others feel too much embarrassment to be seen at a food bank. To support those unable to attend a collection point in person, Verral is preparing a van to deliver food supplies to families in their own homes.
It’s no easy work, considering he has a full-time job. But the more he helps people, the more others want to join in and support him.
“It's about making sure that the initiatives I put in place look after themselves,” he explains. “For instance, the token system in shops is carrying on without my input now and people visiting the establishments involved are continuing to pay their meals forward.”
DONATE: To help deliver food to deprived families who cannot attend food banks, fund Verral’s mobile food bank.
SUPPORT: Follow Verral’s Street Team page on Facebook and share their work to help build their recognition.