Shirley Booth is the mother of Carol Crossley and Michelle Booth, the sisters who founded HelpHomelessHeroes. Their inspiration for this Social Enterprise came from seeing this piece written by their Mother and from the story of their Grandad who was homeless with a young family after returning from WW2 and who suffered from what we now diagnose today at PTSD. These are Shirley's own words about her father and his homelessness and suffering....
He had seen a lot in the war......but being bombed out of the water at Dunkirk was what always haunted him.....
He never slept well either as he suffered....struggling to keep a job down and he would have bouts of depression - this with losing his brother and having no mother or father.....
We had bad times...but he was a wonderful father to us children.
We had trouble paying bills etc, and when he was on the sick he had to go for sick notes before we could get money. Eventually we fell into dept with the rent and was told we was being evicted.
My Mam and Dad had no family and nowhere to go as they had no money. We was all scared of one thing and another, so one night before the baillifs came we all packed our bags and quietly walked out of the house one dark night at 6pm. Dad had a big suitcase with my little brother's clothes, and my sisters, and his and Mums. My little brother was 6 years of age, my sister was 15 yrs old.
It was a cold dark night, and we wandered aimlessly till about 11.30 looking for somewhere to stay. when an old school friend of mine who was age 16 at the time spotted us buying chips last thing at night as we was all hungry she took us all back to her house to stay and asked us why we was out there with our suitcase. When she knew why, she said stay and we all slept on the floor for 3 weeks until they got a rented house off a landlord.
From then on dad never fully got over all this..... He had pawned his war medals previously for food for us all and also he had opened the gas meter to use the shillings for us for food he git took to the police station for this and over the years his nerves were shot. He used to offload on me when I was young as I would listen for hours about the war. Sometimes he had nightmares and us kids would go running into his bedroom where he'd hold us tight...he loved us so much, and we were so proud of him.
When he got news he had lung cancer and had 3 month to live, he told me to go to the Army and sort out his burial. They said they could do nothing until he died. They did pay for his funeral and allowed us to use a union jack on his coffin which to this day sticks in our mind of the wonderful man he was and how he fought for his country.
He was a very intelligent loyal man who never had a chance god bless him......He was Clifford Thompson!
Shirley Booth, Daughter.