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LETTER: Ed Pickersgill is 'legend amongst those who need help'

'I think everyone should know and thank the humanitarian who is the origin of the efforts that are being made today, which still are far from a solution yet,' reader says
Ed Pickersgill at The Bench.

GuelphToday received the following letter to the editor from Greg Elliott is in response to LETTER: We are failing the vulnerable people of our downtown published Nov. 28. 

I just read today's letter from Kate Nixon.

I agree with her assessment of the circumstances of the people downtown that have, for one reason or another, fallen into a frightening, desperate situation in their lives. Most of us cannot imagine what kind of life these folk are living every day and night. Their plight has caused behaviours from some of these people that are causing concern for both merchants and visitors to the downtown area. This has been building for many years now and only in the past couple of years has there been any substantive effort to address this growing need for people living in these dire conditions.

The omission that I feel Nixon made is her list of those working to solve the problem. She made no mention of Ed Pickersgill. She spent a whole paragraph listing those who are responding to the needs of these people, which is accurate. However, all of the groups on her list are there, based on my observation, because of Pickersgill's presence and efforts that easily span the last 10-15 years.

Throughout that time frame, he has been ignored (or worse) by both city officials and merchant members and groups who could have benefited from his knowledge and experience. His personal sacrificial efforts and commitment to helping the people who are stuck in this terrible cycle have saved lives. No surveys were ever taken to verify or recognize this effort, and in fact, he received a lot of criticism from those who didn't want this problem to be present on our streets. Thankfully he never gave up. Over the years, Pickersgill walked the streets on his own very late at night, watching for individuals who were without shelter and directing them to safer doorways and vestibules, offering a snack or coffee and a voice of comfort. At no time has he ever been graced with any form of financial grants for doing this work on the streets (the several housing projects he initiated or participated in did, however). He rallied friends and any caring people he could badger to raise funds to feed and otherwise help these 'street people,' always providing detailed accounting for such support through a very open social media platform. This man is a legend amongst those who need help.

Fortunately, his efforts eventually have been acknowledged by a wider circle of people who have, in turn, influenced groups who are capable of addressing this unfortunate failure of society in general. I think everyone should know and thank the humanitarian who is the origin of the efforts that are being made today, which still are far from a solution yet.

Greg Elliott