How a homeless man is repaying kindness of locals who helped him in lockdown
- Credit: PA
A homeless man supported by the local community during the coronavirus lockdown wants to pay them back for their kindness.
Bob Oath, 32, was given a room at The Dorrington in Halstead, at the start of lockdown, joining a number of other homeless people at the hotel.
Having arrived with just 40p in his pocket, Mr Oath was forced to ask the community for help on Facebook, and they responded emphatically.
“The response I got from the people in Halstead was absolutely overwhelming,” Mr Oath said.
“I managed to feed all 14 people breakfast, lunch and dinner, they provided me a fridge freezer, a cooker, they brought fresh clothes round for everyone in the building.
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“It got to the point where I didn’t need to ask for things anymore, I’d come home and there’d be bags of shopping left at my door.
“I wanted to do something back for them so I started doing little tasks around the town ... as a thank-you for making me feel like a human again really.”
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One of those tasks was to tidy up a nearby dog-walking field which had been left in a state of disrepair. The locals showed their appreciation by raising £350 for Mr Oath, which he is putting towards a deposit on a house.
But that is far from the end of Mr Oath’s story.
The 32-year-old has got a taste for community projects and charity now, and having started a bike club in Halstead, is taking on a 24-hour bike-riding challenge to raise money for the local Royal British Legion clubhouse.
“When my dad came out of the army he had severe PTSD, and the Royal British Legion helped him and he’s doing really well now,” he said.
“Over lockdown, he told me that his clubhouse down there took such a hit that they might actually be closing their doors, they simply can’t afford it.
“I thought: ‘There’s a Royal British Legion club here and it’s only a small town, I wonder what their situation’s like.’ So I popped in and they said: ‘We are struggling since the lockdown.”’
The challenge will see Mr Oath stay on his BMX bike for 24 hours, with no specific route, but a number of challenges to complete such as riding down the high street blindfolded.
“I’m not allowed to work, so I want to dedicate the rest of my life to raising money and doing little things like that,” he said.