His Idea to Help Homeless: Offering Space in Own Home

'Guardian' profiles a former crack addict who has turned into an 'unlikely do-gooder'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2024 3:50 PM CDT
His Idea to Help Homeless: Offering Space in Own Home
   (Getty / Paul Bradbury)

Stuart Potts is a 43-year-old former crack addict who has been in and out of prison much of his adult life. But as a profile in the Guardian reveals, he also is an "unlikely do-gooder" in an unusual way: Over the last few years, he has opened up his modest apartment—and the small camper outside it—to homeless people in Manchester, England. He allows them to stay for a while in exchange for helping with household chores, and he typically has six people in all on the premises. "It's not really a job, since he isn't paid; it's more of a need, something that eases his own anxiety and keeps his demons at bay," writes Samira Shackle. Potts has been homeless himself at times, and is well aware that he might wind up there again. But he also remembers that at some of his lowest moments, he would sometimes get an unexpected helping hand. Now, he's returning the favor while he's able.

"I don't need this space—I can sit in my bedroom and watch TV," he tells Shackle, referring to his small front room. "If more people helped others, the world would be a better place, wouldn't it?" A huge help is that his landlord is on board with the outreach, and police have not followed through on threats to investigate the private property. A worker at a sanctioned shelter in the city lauds Potts but notes it's a "high-risk" gesture. "I can see why he does it, since a lot of these people literally have no other options, but that's a structural problem. The council should be providing beds, not this one bloke." Potts does indeed have stories about dicey moments when he's had to evict people for dangerous behavior (he does not tolerate drug use), but the story also shows examples of the opposite—people whose lives were turned around because of his generosity. Read the full story. (Or read other longform recaps.)

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