During the summer of 2017, some roofing contractors working in the U.K. spotted a homeless man sleeping on a bench close to their latest job in London. They then saw their way to giving the down-on-his-luck guy half a day’s work. But it is what happened next that the contractors didn’t see coming. Indeed, when the men arrived at work the next day, they couldn’t believe who was standing there waiting for them.
JayJay Murray was one of those contractors working for Empire UPVC & Roofing Specialists, which is based on the northern outskirts of London. In August 2017, however, something happened to Murray and his colleagues while they were on a job. That something was so remarkable, in fact, that the story quickly went viral after Murray posted it on his Facebook page.
It all began when Murray and his workmates started a new contract, renovating the roof of a house in London on August 14, 2017. And the team’s day began like any other normal, workaday roofing job. That is, until the gang of men spotted something – or rather someone – that brought them up short.
Close by to the house that needed repair was one of London’s public parks. And as they had passed that green space on the first morning of the new job, the workmen had noticed a man sleeping rough on a bench. Wanting to do something to help the poor fellow, the group of roofers decided to do something typically British – they offered to buy the chap a cup of tea.
The stranger, who was clearly homeless, accepted the offer of a warming drink gratefully. However, he also had a question for the contractors. Specifically, he asked them if they might need some help with their roofing job one morning. And while the Empire workmen were surprised by the stranger’s offer, they nevertheless decided to give him a chance.
So, Murray and his team told the homeless man to meet them at the address the next day and said that they would find the man some work to do. Then, when the Empire gang turned up at the house early the following morning, they were astonished to see that the homeless man had arrived before they had.
Understandably, the work party welcomed the extra pair of hands to help them with the roofing job; they also learned that the man’s name was John. Furthermore, Murray would post about the episode on his Facebook feed later that day, writing, “[John] was first on site and worked non-stop, I have never seen anyone so happy to be at work!”
And photographs of John helping out were also shared online. In the pictures, John can be seen carrying roof tiles and bags of waste and equipment around, looking more than content to be able to help his new friends.
But Murray and his colleagues’ kindness hadn’t stopped with merely offering John work. They treated John to a Burger King meal for his lunch, for instance. And they even indicated to John that it was only fair for him to be paid a decent wage for his morning’s labor before he went on his way again.
It was at that point, however, that John had said something very humble to his new friends. According to an article published on the U.K.-based Independent news website on August 20, John told the roofers that £15 – or $20 – would be just enough to “get him through the week.” But the fair-minded workmen had other ideas.
Indeed, they wanted to give John a little more than that to reward him for his hard work that summer’s morning and to set him up with a bit more cash going forwards. So, according to Murray, the Empire gang had a quick cash collection amongst themselves and gave John a far larger sum than the modest £15 he had suggested.
Between them, in fact, the roofers gathered £70 – or some $92 – and presented it to John. And the homeless man was reportedly delighted as well as extremely grateful to the roofers for giving him the morning’s work. In Murray’s Facebook post, he added that John’s gratitude had been “a real eye-opener.”
Murray continued the soon-to-be viral post by writing, “Keep going, John, got to be something good around the corner.” The roofer then made a profound statement about the massive homelessness problem currently affecting the U.K. He remarked, “Nobody willing to work should be living on the streets.”
But after receiving the cash, John didn’t simply slope off. Indeed, he showed his strong work ethic by asking his temporary colleagues if it would be possible for him to come back and assist them another day. The roof contractors agreed readily and told John to return to the house the following Monday to help them out some more.
Upon leaving the worksite, however, John said something heartbreaking to the Empire gang as he waved goodbye. His parting words were, “Thanks brothers, it’s the most love I’ve ever had.” And it may have been partly down to that message that Murray’s Facebook post became so widely appreciated.
Indeed, Murray’s Facebook update has seen in excess of 23,000 likes; it was also shared more than 5,000 times in a very short space of time. The comments rolled in, too, with most of them positive reactions from the worldwide online community. In fact, Facebook users practically fell over themselves to congratulate the roofers for their act of charity towards John.
One user commented, for instance, “What kindness shown to a complete stranger… Those great guys may have changed the homeless man’s life forever.” And theirs was by no means the only positive voice to have remarked on the roofers’ altruistic actions.
“Inspirational humanity,” wrote another Facebook follower who was also moved by the workmen’s good deed. But perhaps the best part about the story going viral is that the right people heard about John’s plight. According to the Empire roofing company, some compassionate individuals have since offered the homeless man accommodation.
What’s more, Murray and his colleagues have received plenty of praise from their firm as well as from the public. And that’s clear from a message that Empire UPVC & Roofing Specialists’ management posted on the company Facebook page. It read, “We can’t believe how this selfless gesture from the Empire team has gone so far. We couldn’t be prouder of the team, well done boys.”
And stories like this show that there are ways to help a fellow citizen down on their luck. In fact, the gang of roofing contractors may well have changed John’s life for the better through their actions. But perhaps the last word should go to a Facebook user who commented on Murray’s post. They wrote, “If only there were more lovely people like you guys. The world would be a better place.” And that pretty much sums it up perfectly.