Diana and Peter were in their local shopping centre, Christmas had been and gone and it was the middle of January and it was unbelievably cold. You know that kind of wind, that cuts right through you, where even your bones are cold. As they passed the bakers, they saw two paramedics attending to a rough sleeper in the doorway. He had with him a lovely little dog, who was shivering in the cold, even though he was under a big blanket. "David, we need to take you to the hospital," said one of the paramedics. "I am not leaving Alfie," replied David. While this was happening, Diana picked up his piece of cardboard, so her and Peter could read it.
Diana smiled, looked at Peter, Peter nodded and then said "David we will take Alfie and look after him, until you come out of hospital, we promise to look after him very well." At that moment Alfie shivered with the cold and laid down and looked at David. "Thank you, you are very kind, he is a very good dog and very funny." Replied David. He then picked up Alfie and passed him to Diana and said "now you be a good boy for this lovely lady and behave yourself." "Woof, woof," replied Alfie.
Peter meanwhile was speaking to the paramedics and giving them, their address, so that David, could pick up Alfie in a couple of days time. "You look frozen, have you not time to stop for a hot drink?" Asked Peter. "We have no time, this is one of our busy times of the year," replied the paramedics. Peter, thought for a moment and then said "Diana give me our flask." Diana passed him the flask and he gave it to the paramedics and said "we were going to Polesden for a walk, but you can have the flask, you need it more than us." The paramedics said thank you and loaded David into the ambulance and were gone. Peter stood there and said to Diana, "you know that has given me an idea."
"Come on Alfie, let's go for a walk," said Peter. It had been snowing most of the morning and Alfie loved chasing snowflakes and rolling in the snow. David was more poorly then first thought and had been in hospital for 4 days now, but good news, he was coming out tomorrow. Even better news, a one bedroom flat had become available and David was coming out of hospital and moving in tomorrow. When Peter and Diana visited him a couple of days ago, he was pleased he had a roof over his head but told them he had no furniture. During the next couple of days, Peter and Diana spoke to everyone they knew and even went to local businesses and managed to find enough furniture and pieces for the home for David. The owners of the flat had let them bring everything in ready for David.
Before the day was over, Peter had put his plan into action, after seeing how the paramedics were gasping for a hot drink, because they were so busy and how poor David was on the streets. He made a very simple poster for people to download from the internet and place either in their front window or their front door. This way, the emergency services and veterans knew they could knock for a cup of coffee or tea and a good old chat. All Diana's & Peter's friends were up for it and had already put up their posters. Peter had been in contact with the local emergency services and told them about the scheme and they loved the idea.
Peter had struggled, trying to work out, how to contact veterans, there was an organsation, but wasn't local to the area. However, when he spoke to David, David had told him about a few places where veterans went to meet up. So Peter went to the places and the owners were very glad to put up, his posters. Also David said a couple of veterans, who were still on the streets, were coming to visit him in hospital and he would tell them and they would spread the word. David, did say "won't you and all the wonderful people, mind, we smell a bit?" Peter replied "firstly we are all proud of what you have all done and secondly no-one will care or notice." They both giggled and David once again thanked Peter and Diana.
After visiting David, Diana and Peter went to the flat, where he was going to live. When they entered the flat, they were both humbled by what they saw, there was about 10 people, either painting, or building furniture and someone was cooking. There was a mixture of friends, local businesses and veterans, friends of David. Everyone stayed until the early hours of the morning, to get the flat ready. During that time, people kept coming and going, friends, emergency services, even the paramedics who had taken David into hospital. As they locked the front door, Peter thanked everyone for their help and told them David will love it. Everyone had also promised to get 2 people they knew to put Peter's poster up, as everyone loved the idea.
When Diana and Peter picked up David from the hospital, everything David owned had been in one carrier bag, the nurses had clubbed together and bought David some new clothes and now he was leaving with 4 carrier bags full of new clothes. He thanked the nurses, for what they had done, in turn the nurses thanked him for his service and helping keep our country safe. One nurse who had a personal reason to thank David said, " It is important to honour you and all our veterans, in times of peace or war, you devote your lives, protecting our freedom, I for one thank you." Everyone clapped and said good bye to David.
When David, put his key into his front door, he stood for a moment, he was overwhelmed, Peter put his arm around him and said, "it's okay David, take your time, we get it." Everyone wanted to be there when he arrived, but one of the veterans said, it would be better to give David an hour to settle, he had been on the streets for a long time. So it was agreed that just one of his veterans friends would be there with Alfie to greet him. Peter could see there was a tear in David's eye, then David stood up straight and replied "okay Peter, I am ready." They entered and there was Alfie, guarding a huge plate of sandwiches and some presents from well wishes. Diana and Peter, left David with his veteran friend and would come back in an hour with all the others.
A few days later, the word had got around locally about Diana and Peter "Cuppa stop" and one of the policemen who had helped with David's flat, called around with a couple of colleagues for a cup of coffee and a chat. As they were all drinking coffee and enjoying a slice of cake, Peter looked out the window and giggled. Outside were a number of neighbours, wondering what was going on, especially after they had seen 3 policemen going into their house. Peter went outside and was there for about 10 minutes and came back in smiling and said "well that's 3 new recruits for the Cuppa Stop."
Soon, "Cuppa Stop" was popping up all over the neighbourhood, even in the local High street. One night, there was a big fire and the fire service was there all night. "Cuppa stop" came into it's own and the amazing people, were not only supplying coffee and tea, but bacon rolls as well. They made sure every single fire person had a hot drink and a bacon roll. They threw open their homes to the fire service, Peter and Diana were so proud of everyone. In the early hours of the morning, they saw David and a couple of his veteran friends making bacon rolls in one of the houses.
Regular visitors to David's flat were the paramedics who took him to hospital that day, they would text him, when they were near by and on a break and he would make sure the coffee was ready by the time they arrived. David finally felt like he was getting his self worth back, not just from "Cuppa stop", but also by helping other veterans who were rough sleeping. He was also giving talks on PTSD, which was helping people in the community understand it better.
Within weeks, Peter's and Diana's "cuppa stop" were popping up all over the place. David had put one up and every day went on the streets to talk to other veterans, who were rough sleeping. Everybody agreed what a difference a cup of coffee / tea was making. David said the veterans locally no longer felt alone and felt wanted and the emergency services really enjoyed being able to just have a hot drink and a chat. It really is the small things in life that make the biggest difference and giving your time to others, is priceless.