One act of kindness that changed a homeless man’s life


Phil Webb, 58, a former gunner in the Royal Artillery, was married with four children and taught sociology.

His marriage fell apart however, he lost his job and then he began drinking.

Living on the streets, dozens of people walked him past him every day. One man stopped however, and it was his random act of kindness which sparked the beginning of Phil’s new life.

Phil recalled: “It was raining I remember and cold, and I felt pathetic. I was pathetic.

“I went into an archway and started drinking. I sat with my head down…. cos I didn’t want anyone to see me and I didn’t want to see anybody else.

“I just thought, I didn’t want to commit suicide, but if I wouldn’t have woke up I wouldn’t have been bothered.”

He continued: “This fella tapped me on the shoulder and said: ‘look mate, I don’t usually help homeless people, but something told me to help you. Come with me. We’ll put you up for the night and we’ll talk in the morning.'”

That man was fitness trainer and former RAF sniper Stephen Finlayson, 36, from Carlisle.

He initially just paused to ask Phil if he was alright, but says he got barely 20m down the road before he realised he had to help.

“I just saw that look in his eye of just being totally scared,” Stephen explained.

“I’ve seen that look before and that’s when you know someone’s at rock bottom. He doesn’t need food, he doesn’t need a drink, he doesn’t need a sleeping bag. He needs someone to pick him up and take him somewhere where he’s going to be a lot safer than on the streets.”

With the help of Stephen’s mum, Phil spent the night in a bed and breakfast, and then the good samaritan put him in touch with the British Legion.

The charity helped him get a permanent roof over his head, and so Phil stopped drinking and began to rebuild his life.

“It was a miracle,” he said. “I just thought… this stranger, or this angel, has come to help me. So I owe it to him, but more so I owe it to myself, to stop drinking.”

Phil is now doing an IT course, as well as doing voluntary work.

Stephen and Phil have now been reunited in the café where Stephen first took him, to on the night he helped him.

As the pair embraced Phil said: “I just want to tell you what you’ve done for me. You’ve done everything for me.”

“I just thought I couldn’t get any lower. And I didn’t really have any friends. The loneliness and despair. This feeling and then you came along.

“I can’t thank you enough. You just changed my life. I just needed that somebody.”

He added: “My mother used to have a little plaque in the hallway that said there’s no such thing as strangers only friends we’ve never met.

“You were a friend that night. You really were.”





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