‘How can they survive?’ - Dereham hairdresser’s sponsored silence for Norwich’s homeless
- Credit: IAN BURT
For many of us in Norfolk, walking past a homeless man or woman on the street has become a sad part of our daily reality.
But for Jane Rice-Smith, a hair salon owner from Dereham, stopping to speak to a young homeless man in Norwich was the start of a journey which has inspired her to raise money and increase awareness of the issue.
Miss Rice-Smith, who owns the Rouge Et Noir hairdressers in Dereham, is aiming to raise £1,000 for Norwich homelessness charity, the St Martin's Housing Trust.
And the chatty 65-year-old is planning to make the challenge especially difficult for herself: by holding a five hour sponsored silence at her salon.
She said: 'I'd love to raise £1,000. I'm going to try my hardest to get as money as I possibly can.
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'St Martin's say it costs £23 a night to give someone a bed and something to eat - I just feel so passionate about it.'
Miss Rice-Smith goes into Norwich once a week, and started regularly giving £1 for a coffee or a hot chocolate to a young homeless man near the bus stop.
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She said: 'One day I stopped and spoke to him and asked how he ended up here.
'He'd had an argument with his family - that's how easily it could slip into bad circumstances.
'I said I wished I could take him home with me and look after him but I can't. He said all he wanted were some clean clothes - that broke my heart.'
Miss Rice-Smith soon began taking clothes and bedding into the city with her to give to the homeless people she saw - and even took her family, including her two daughters, son-in-law and grandchildren into the city to give out clothes and blankets on Christmas Eve.
She said: 'I've got a nice life - a warm coat and I go home to a warm bed. He's been sleeping in Chapelfield with nowhere to go.
'How can these people survive?
'My daughter went to London and got a job but she didn't have anywhere to live, so sofa surfed.
'One night she had nowhere to sleep - I got straight in a taxi to Norwich station and got on a train and took her to a BnB - I was lucky to be able to help her.'
Miss Rice-Smith plans to do her sponsored silence on Tuesday, March 26.
She said: 'My job is talking - I make everyone happy, I laugh, I sing. I might have to tape my mouth shut.'
To donate, contact the Rouge Et Noir hair salon in Dereham.