We woke up this morning to find that a lovely Nottingham girl's Facebook post about a good deed had gone viral (it has already been shared on Facebook over 3̶0̶0̶0̶ 4̶0̶0̶0̶ 5̶0̶0̶0̶ 6̶0̶0̶0̶ 7̶0̶0̶0̶ 8̶0̶0̶0̶ 11,000 times). In a nutshell, she had given a homeless man named Tom some money to help him pay for his accommodation at our hostel. Apparently, this man had told her that “the hostel charges £19 for two weeks which includes hot meals, washing facilities and a safe place to sleep”.
Unfortunately, Tom lied to her. And he's been lying to other people too, telling a similar story. We've actually had 2 different people stop by the hostel in the past couple months saying that a ‘Tom’ had mentioned that he stays at our hostel and they wanted to pay for his accommodation, but wanted to check things out / pay for it in-person rather than just give Tom the cash.
Well, Tom doesn't stay at our hostel. We can only imagine that this story has been a pretty successful pitch, so he seems to be using it quite a lot. And it really troubles us that there is someone out there not only taking advantage of the kindness of others, but also tying our hostel and name to the lie.
After the Facebook post mentioned above spread all over, we've started getting lots of phone calls and emails from people wanting to help pay for Tom. So much so, that we figured we better write a quick blog post about the whole thing to hopefully start spreading the actual story around (of course, it is heartwarming that the original story has been spread so widely… it's just so unfortunate that the story is not quite as "feel good" as everybody thought / hoped).
We do know of Tom, but he is not staying at our hostel. We also do not offer accommodation that is £19 for two weeks. We are a backpackers hostel and provide accommodation for travellers, students, business people, sports groups and families. We are not a homeless shelter. This is not because we are unsympathetic to anyone who has fallen on hard times, it really is just a matter of that not being our field or expertise. There are amazing people doing amazing work in this area (i.e. Framework), which is why we donate to their cause (and have included a big clickable button on the bottom of this post so that you can do the same).
We really hate to be the ones to have to turn a story about “a good hearted person doing the right thing” into a story about “a good hearted person being lied to”. We really do hope that Tom has at least used this money to pay for accommodation somewhere else (or for food or something to help better the tough situation he's in).
Please don't let the reality of this 'good news gone bad' story turn you cynical. It's important to be a kind and generous person, even if that means that every now and again someone misleads you. At the end of the day, this story is still one that involves a very compassionate young person with a big heart. And the world needs more of those.
So if you were one of the 1000's of people who has seen / shared the original post and were feeling inspired to do something similar… please hold on to those feelings of goodwill and click the button below to go visit Framework (an amazing charity doing important work in this area).
As Neil Skinner from Framework said on The Nottingham Post coverage of this story: “This was a lovely and highly commendable gesture and one that I am sure was much appreciated by the young man concerned. I would, however, like to say that the most effective way for people to help somebody in that position is to contact Framework’s Street Outreach Team on 0800 066 5356, or by text on 80800. Team members can then offer professional help and support.”