Art Student Fundraiser
Student raises thousands of pounds for homeless man who offered her money.
A Preston art student raises over £20,000 for a homeless man who tried to help her get home safely.
An art student living in Preston has raised over £21,000 for a homeless man, after she says he offered her his last £3 so that she could get a taxi home safely.
Dominique Harrison-Bentzen, who studies at the University of Central Lancashire, says she had lost her bank card and needed to get home after a night out when the homeless man, known only as Robbie, offered money to help.
The 22-year-old says she declined the offer, but was so moved by his gesture that she started a campaign to raise enough money to help him get a flat. She set up a donation page and asked people to each donate £3 for her fundraiser, which involved spending the night on the street, along with supporters who had heard about her story through social media.
Harrison-Bentzen says: “I suddenly realised that I had no money and a homeless man approached me with his only change of £3. He insisted I took it to pay for a taxi to make sure I got home safe.
“I was touched by such a kind gesture from a man who faces ignorance every day, so I set on a mission to find this man. The more I spoke about him the more kind gestures I learned about him, such as him returning wallets untouched to pedestrians and offering his scarf to keep people warm.
“He has been homeless for 7 months through no fault of his own and needs to get back on his feet but cannot get work due to having no address. So that’s when I decided to change Robbie’s life and help him, as he has helped many others.”
The campaign has received global attention, going viral on social media. Since the donation page was set up, it has frequently reported technical difficulties due to “an unusually high number of visitors”. Many have tweeted their support, including Ian Brown of the Stone Roses.
After the fundraiser, which ended on Wednesday morning, Harrison-Bentzen posted on Facebook: “This is not only going to change Robbie’s life, but [the lives of] an incredible amount of homeless people in Preston. Yes, we were cold and yes, we were hungry, but people endure that 365 days of the year, so for 24 hours we didn’t complain.”
Harrison-Bentzen says the money will be used to find permanent accommodation for Robbie and help other homeless people in the city. She says: “With Robbie’s blessing, we want to help as many people as we can. Robbie has already suggested some local charities within Preston who have helped not only him but others throughout their hardship.
“The next few days will be spent carefully deciding where to donate the money and how it can be used in the most efficient way to benefit the homeless community within Preston.”
To donate visit this site.
The above article by Abby Young-Powell first published on the theguardian.com on Wed 17th Dec, 2014.