Finding a home for Leroy, off the streets of Hamilton
OPINION: Last night I wrote a story for my nieces and nephews in Wales so they could learn about homelessness and I thought I would share it in the conversation section. You will have to look beyond me using the Jones, Evans and the Williams families, it's just a Welsh trait and it is to retain privacy.
Once upon a time when Leroy was born he was fostered and adopted out at a very early age and he had lived in quite a few different homes. When Leroy was fairly young one of his placements was on a farm and he lived with the Evans family for some time. Mr Evans said Leroy was one of the hardest workers he had ever had. He added once he got into his teens he started to misbehave and Mr Evans said he could not have him living with him anymore so he was sent away.
This is how Leroy ended up living on the streets of Hamilton for many months, just sleeping rough and eating where he could. He had been hanging out with the men and women who lived rough on the streets of Hamilton.
During his time on the streets his hygiene had got bad and he looked more and more run down by the day. After six months on the streets living rough a local resident, Mr Jones, took an interest in Leroy and started to talk to him and even gave him some meals.
READ MORE: The Gilded Tramp of Hamilton
They became good mates and they could often been seen walking together down along the river paths. Mr Jones did consider having Leroy come to live with him and his wife but Mrs Jones refused point blank. She was tempted because like Mr Jones she had a big heart. She said I am not having him come and live in my nice new house and now the kids had left home she just wanted her and Mr Jones to have time alone together.
Mr Jones decided that it was not good for Leroy living on the streets and that his health was suffering. He spruced up Leroy, took him into a shop for a hair trim, got him to have a medical and got some medicine for his cough. He had seen that Leroy was not walking that well and he took Leroy in for an x-ray and they discovered that Leroy had arthritis in the knee. Mr Jones paid for the knee operation and Leroy was back to good health in a very short time.
Now it came to the crunch, Mr Jones had to find a home for Leroy. So he decided to put an advert in the local paper and tell people about Leroy's story and about needing a new home for Leroy.
Within hours the story had gone nationwide and there were many people offering Leroy a new home, even a member of parliament had offered to have Leroy. Within a short time Leroy had found the perfect home with the Williams family. The Williams family had a large farm near Cambridge and Leroy just loved the environment and fitted in really well with the family.
Every now and again Leroy would make the trip into Hamilton with the Williams to do the shopping or just have a walk around town. When he went past the people who he used to know when he was rough sleeping he just felt so sad for them.
They were all still there, some had been found homes and lost them and others had continued to live on the streets and he would cry on the way back in the car and just think how lucky he was to have a home with the Williams in Cambridge.
The advert that Mr Jones put in the paper was as follows; somewhere out there is a home for Leroy. He may present some challenges but with patience he will make you laugh and keep your lap warm. Leroy is half border collie and half fox terrier. Contact Mr Jones.
- Peter Humphreys is manager of the Hamilton Christian Nightshelter Trust.