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‘Please don’t just walk past’

Section:  Lockerbie and Lochmaben  | Tags: , ,

BIG hearted Gary Shanks has helped transform a homeless man’s life, and it all started with an invite to Christmas dinner

Gary, 40, from Lockerbie went viral in December after he invited Nick, who had been living rough in some woods near Ayr for eight months, to join his family round the Christmas dinner table.

But his act of extreme kindness did not stop there.

For, the Shanks family invited Nick to live with them and have helped put his life back on track.

Gary has warned that he did not simply pick a homeless person up off the street but, instead, was put in contact with Nick and given assurances that he was not an alcoholic, suffering from substance dependency or in need in need of mental health treatment, just simply a man who had fallen on hard times and needed help moving forward.

Gary said: “It wasn’t a spur of the moment decision, myself and my partner slept on it and we were obviously cautious about who we invited into our home.

“Upon meeting Nick it was clear he was an intelligent and articulate guy who had just hit a dead end and needed help.”

Gary added: “It was never our intention to simply invite Nick for dinner then send him on his way, if we were going to help, we were going to do it right.”

And do it right they did, for Nick stayed in the couple’s Lockerbie home for three weeks, eventually flying home to the USA, after Gary helped put him in touch with friends and secure work.

But before he departed, Gary and his partner, who would prefer not to be named, ventured to Scotland’s capital with Nick for a day of sightseeing – which quickly turned to an even more meaningful day out.

Gary said: “Plans of sightseeing changed when we saw the homeless people on Princes Street.

“We put our time and energy into helping some people up and down Princes Street handing out food, hot drinks and warm winter wear.

“And Nick and I agreed on one key message . . please don’t just walk past.”

Nick is now settling back into life in the USA but big hearted and proactive Gary will not be resting, not when there’s so much more help he could be providing.

This week he has dedicated much of his time to collecting and handing out tents and other essentials to Scotland’s homeless, as the country braces for extreme weather.

He said: “Severe weather is on its way. This is a reality for some people right now.

“I’m not sitting back and watching this happen as it’s making me so angry and frustrated.”

Encouraging others to help make a difference, Gary said: “I used to sit back but if we all sit back nothing will change so I decided to step forward myself.

“The truth is, when it comes to helping others, you always get back more than you give.”

 

Gary is encouraging anyone who can to donate to help Edinburgh’s estimated 300 homeless –www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/edinburghhomelessnesscampaign

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