“I hope they see us …”
Introducing a true short story about food banks and millionaires, people who are struggling and people who have much (and the rest of us caught in between), exploring what it means to see and be seen.
You may not have heard of Sherelyn but there are millions like her: good, hard-working people who have been forced to come to food banks for help in these difficult times. In the latest episode of the podcast Can We Talk? I tell the true short story of a walk from the wealthy streets of Knightsbridge – where you can buy a bottle of water for the almost unbelievable price of £85 – up through fashionable Notting Hill and past the ruins of Grenfell Tower to north Kensington.
It’s a short walk in which life expectancy falls by thirty years, the average wage plummets and the shocking inequalities of life in our major cities are revealed. Along the way I meet a man who inherited millions but gave most of them away and a woman who sells hugely expensive homes to the super-rich. As ever, I try to listen with compassion, believing everyone is a human engaged in a dialogue with love, and each person worth hearing. This is urgent now. I’m not asking for money, I would just like to borrow your ears, to tell you a story.
At the end of the walk is a food bank. A decade ago, they gave out 40,000 emergency parcels a year. Now that figure is 2.5 million. Some people seem to think this a wonderful, uplifting example of charity in action, but surely it’s actually a disgrace that it needs to happen at all in a society where there is so much wealth? I meet a woman from the Philippines called Sherelyn who slowly shares the disturbing circumstances in which she came to this country, having been trafficked. But Sherelyn is also truly inspirational in her desire to rise above her troubles, survive and even thrive.
This story is as much about ways of seeing each other as it is about social issues. What does it really mean to love your neighbour? What if you don’t really see who they are? Do they see you? These and other questions are explored in another of my first-person short stories reflecting on meetings with extraordinary humans and what we can learn from them about how to live.
Can We Talk? is based on the belief that we are better when we share our stories, so explores our human desire to connect with each other, with ourselves and with the divine, if we believe in that.
I hope Can We Talk? is a series for all those with an interest in human connection, spirituality and better living, interviewing or storytelling. Or maybe you just want to be told a darn good tale that makes you laugh, feel and think a bit about life. Anyway, have a listen if you like …
Cole proves in this series how we all need stories in our lives. Proper stories. Well told. In a world of clips and clicks ad shortening attention spans, this hits just the right spot.Fi Glover, broadcaster and queen of pods
A brilliant, sensitive storyteller, Coe Moreton produces perfectly formed mini epics that are both thought-provoking and hugely entertaining’Anita Anand, best-selling author