Having arranged an interview with John Greensmith we were not entirely sure what to expect when we arrived at the Highcross Shopping Centre armed with just a mobile phone and lots of enthusiasm. All that we knew about John Greensmith was that he is a security officer at Highcross and that he feels passionate about helping homeless people.
We met John in the shopping centre along with two of his colleagues. He excused himself from his duties and I was surprised to see how supportive the two other colleagues were when he told them that we wanted to do an interview with him about homelessness. It appeared that all three of them were no strangers to interviews about homelessness.
John invited us to the executive suite on the upper floor but just as we were about to leave he stopped and talked to a disabled person who was being pushed in a wheelchair. “How are we doing today Peter”, he said and a short warm-hearted exchange took place. It turned out that Peter was a regular at Highcross and that a relationship had developed between the two. When we were alone again John said “I probably made his day today”, and he was right. Peter had a huge smile on his face when they left. This short interlude gave us an indication what kind of person John was and what to expect in the interview.
We were alone with John in the well furnished executive suite on the upper floor of the Highcross Shopping Centre. The room was quiet and had a large window overlooking parts of Leicester. We sat with John at one end of a long table of the sort one can see when politicians and government officials conduct their meetings. With the mobile phone on the table and the Hindenburg Field Reporter App running the interview was about to start.
We noticed an influx of people coming into Leicester and obviously there is a massive problem. They are coming in and taking things out of stores. I thought to myself well they’re doing it for food there must be something out there. – John Greensmith
He called hostels and found food banks with hot and cold food. Furthermore, with the help of other members of staff, they arranged a collection over Christmas like coats, hats, scarfs, tin openers, food tins etc.
When asked if he had any specific stories he told us about Mark, a Big Issue seller who regularly stands at the Churchgate entrance of Highcross selling the magazine. He said he sees Mark every single day without fail.
An Interview with John Greensmith:
When the new iPhone X came out Mark found one, still boxed up and with a receipt. He phoned the owner and asked him to meet him at Highcross. The gentleman wanted to give him some money but Marc refused. Subsequently, the man went to Sports Direct and bought Mark a hat, gloves, scarf, coat, jeans, socks and even shoes. Then he put this amazing story on Facebook and it got over 20,000 likes. Still today people are coming up to Mark, the Big Issue seller, buy him a drink and say ‘you are the iPhone guy, you are the guy who gave the phone back’. This helped Mark in so many ways and made him think of his future, after all the world is not all bad, even though standing on the street in all weather conditions may be very taxing.
OUT NOW: Undefeated. Our vendors who wrestled #TheBeastFromTheEast and won. pic.twitter.com/DghtOWzRQd
— The Big Issue (@BigIssue) March 5, 2018
John made the point that every single person, even the Prime Minister, they are only one step away from being done.
If I would get a phone call now that my wife and my three kids are being killed in a car accident, how do I know I can live a normal or what we call a normal life. I couldn’t do that anymore. How do I know I wouldn’t go to that extreme. No one is better in my eyes than those people on the street. – John Greensmith
He explained there got to be money out there to help these people. Something easily can be done to help the homeless. Look at the new cars out there, look at the buildings across the road.