The One & Only "Hazel Huggy Bear"
Hi all my name is Hazel James. In June of 2019 I met up with a friend on a night out who mentioned she was going out to help the homeless in July. I thought no more about it until July when I saw her again and asked her if i could join her. The rest as they say is history.
My first run out was to Cardiff and what an eye opener it turned out to be. It was the first time I met Donna Thomas who had driven us there. What an inspirational woman. I had no idea what to expect or what was expected of me. I can remember unloading supplies from her car and a guy coming to give us a hand to carry everything to where we would set up. It wasn't until the end of the day that I realised he was homeless himself. He had helped us all day, never asking for a thing. It wasn't until we were packing up that he asked if there were any spare socks he could have, of course they were duly given. This had a profound effect on me and I walked away not to show anyone I was crying. Such a basic item that we take for granted. I was determined to do more to help and asked Donna if I could join with her on each run. I was so proud to wear my "Homeless Hope" tee-shirt and to be part of a wonderful team of volunteers. The foot care nurses were and are amazing, I quickly realised that some people just wanted to be listened to and have physical touch in the form of a hug. I am now known as the hugger of the group "Hazel Huggy Bear". Before Covid19 arrived I would hug (cwtch) everybody willingly but how I will manage to contain myself in future will be difficult. Its human nature to give comfort to people who are suffering.
In Newport I met with Hayley Thomas and he HCT group (helping Caring Team) and was made an honorary member complete with pink jacket ; after warming up a frozen homeless man for over an hour in a car park.
Swansea, the nearest location to me was an amazing experience the kindness shown by Dr Rashid Malik and his team feeding the homeless, the foot care nurses, the helpers sorting out clothing and Helen the haircuts for them. The people I met all with a story to tell, such characters will live with me forever. You get days that give you hope that things will get better and also bad days when you hear that one of those you have cared for have died...these are the worst. However, I wouldn't change a thing it makes you realise how lucky you are not to be in their position and value you family and friends more. Looking forward to getting out there again soon!!