A homeless man facing cold nights on the streets of Grantham through the winter has thanked generous people who have given him money and clothing.
Jason Crowder has been sleeping on the streets for over a month following a difficult period in which he was injured at work and his relationship with his girlfriend ended.
Jason sent an emotional message through the Journal to say he was grateful for the help of many people in recent weeks. But he also had a forgiving message for those who have physically and verbally attacked him.
Mr Crowder said: “I’d like to thank all the people who have helped me out in this time of hardship, from giving me 1p to winter clothing. You have brought back my faith in humanity.
“And to those people who have verbally and physically abused me and spat at me – I hope you never end up where I am because it doesn’t take much to lose all that is dear to you. Isn’t it better to ask me about my situation before passing judgement?”
Mr Crowder was born in London and later moved to Suffolk, before moving to Grantham in 2005. He says it was around that time that he was working as a tree surgeon and was injured in an accident, through no fault of his own, while at work.
On moving to the town, he lived in a housing association flat in Westgate, before moving to Newark with his girlfriend. When they broke up, he ended up on the streets and came back to Grantham, where he knows people who will occasionally let him sleep on their sofa.
Mr Crowder, who turns 45 two days before Christmas, said: “I have lost everything I loved.” He says some people have been extremely generous to him. In one case, a woman brought him a coat and gloves and had forgotten to take the price tag off. She had spent £36 on them. Others have given him food, socks and money.
Mr Crowder sometimes sleeps on a street near the High Street but likes to stay out of the town centre at night. He says police officers have moved him on on several occasions because of people complaining about him, but have otherwise been good to him.
He says he does not like begging, but has no alternative. “I don’t ask anybody for anything. The only time I speak to somebody is if they put something in my hat and I say ‘thanks very much’.
“There is one old lady who comes along and gives me a pat on the hand. Then someone will comes along and give me a load of abuse.”
Recently, a Grantham father took a video of his four-year-old son giving Mr Crowder food bought from Greggs. The video has so far been viewed an incredible 750,000 times on his Facebook page. Mr Crowder said he was “choked up” when he heard about it.
He added: “I have nowhere else to go. I have no family any more. I lived here before and it’s the only place where I know people. I have a few mates who will put me up every so often, but I don’t like to go round asking. I save it for when I am desperate.”
Mr Crowder says he has suffered physical and mental health problems. He is covered in blisters and sores which he says are caused by stress. He admits to having been on the wrong side of the law in the past and having had alcohol and drug problems, but says he is now clean.
He said: “I would not wish this on my worst enemy. People are welcome to ask me why I am here. I will tell them. I have nothing to be ashamed of in my life. But it is hard.”