Roger’s journey from homelessness to specialist nursing.
On December 14th we enjoyed another Hope Kitchen Christmas meal. We are grateful to the Darvell Community in Robertsbridge who not only supplied a magnificent feast but cooked it, served it, washed up and even supplied a band to help us sing some lovely Christmas carols. Guests were joined at the tables by our normal kitchen staff who produce soup and sandwiches during the rest of the year and for once could put their feet up. On their way home guests received some gifts and we are grateful to The Hastings Rotary Club for their generous support for this and other items.
Between courses Roger Nuttall spoke briefly of his experience of being homeless. He now works for the St John Ambulance Hastings Homeless Service as Nurse Coordinator based at The Seaview Project in St Leonards.
Here is Roger’s Christmas message of hope.
Many years ago, in my teens, I was one of those rare people that chose homelessness – that is, to live on the road, free from possessions & responsibilities. I couldn’t face the trappings of life and wanted nothing to do with them. As the Specials sang back then:
“Working for the rat race, you know you’re wasting your time, Working for the rat race, you’re no friend of mine...”
Life on the road was all I wanted from about the age of 11 – a slightly strange choice for a middle-class boy, but probably related to the difficult, unhappy childhood I had in a dysfunctional family.
During my teens I got into a lot of trouble for shoplifting and was given a Junior Criminal Record for selling stolen goods at school. I ran away from home twice and lived for sex, drugs & travel, rather than sex & drugs & rock ‘n’ roll!
I became homeless by choice, but behind that choice was a damaged person who was psychologically and spiritually homeless. I was an atheist since being a young child, with no sense of roots or belonging in this world.
Life on the road took me to the USA in ’85 and ’87.
At the age of 21, in 1987, during my time in America, after everything I had was stolen, I took to living on the city streets, instead of on the open road, so I could access the hostels and soup-kitchens like this one – only Hope Kitchen is much nicer than those were!
It’s a long story but during this time I started to believe in God and in Jesus.
I prayed a very simple prayer for the first time in my life, telling God that I believed in him. It was a very non-committal prayer, in fact, but things changed rapidly in my heart.
I’d immediately found a spiritual home – in the Father’s arms.
It was a psychological and spiritual homecoming. I no longer had any need to travel because I’d found peace. I returned to England and trained as a nurse. And here I am, nearly 30 years later.
It doesn’t mean that life has always been easy, but Jesus is my foundation.
What worked for me won’t necessarily work for others, but here are 2 messages to take away from this, that others may relate to:
1: There is a spiritual homelessness as well as physical homelessness. For some, like me, finding a spiritual home can be the key to unlocking all kinds of other issues.
2. If you pray, you never know what might happen! A colleague of mine had posted on Facebook that she’d tried almost everything to get rid of her migraines that had been ruining her life. I told her I’d pray for a miracle for her, and since then she’s barely had a single migraine. And for me, profound changes emanated from that simple prayer nearly 30 years ago. Why not try praying and see what happens!
Christmas should be a time of hope. For me, because of my faith and my own experiences, I have hope for all of you in all the difficult situations you may be facing.
So let me finish by saying “Hope and peace to you”.