Hi I’m Grant Richards but most know me as Grant the Polite Guy. For those that don’t know me, I was in most people’s eyes very successful. Married with kids, house, car and things like that. I worked hard to get what I wanted in life and was very proud of the things we had.
About 5 years ago now I had an accident on a stairwell that left me spending 9months in and out of hospitals and left me with a lot of injuries. I don’t talk about it much mostly because it’s depressing, but I was busted up pretty bad with my back getting the worst of it.
That accident cost me everything. I couldn’t walk without a metal back brace and cane for some time. I lost my job, house, family, assets and everything that was dear to me.
I remember I went to the city and just wanted to disappear from everything. I sat in a park for a few days and just gave up. I watched the world go by without me. I became homeless.
I started selling the Big Issue mostly because of hunger, but soon started feeling value in myself. I was still in pain every day, but for me at least I was working again. I started getting customers and people were looking at me as if I was normal, not the crushed body that I saw in the mirror.
One day I asked a customer to print some thank you notes for me so I could hand them out when people bought my magazines. In my eyes I was giving something back for people giving me a go. I also would say “Have a nice day” as they were getting on with their lives. Then just out of the blue a customer stopped and said “You really are Grant the Polite Guy” soon others were hearing it and saying it too. I guess it kind of stuck and more people know me as Grant the Polite Guy then Grant Richards.
About a year later I was more confident and selling my Big Issue magazines when a lady came to me and asked if she could give me clothes to give to the homeless. I said of course of which she gave to me the next day. That night a homeless lady was wearing the clothes and was a lot warmer.
This gave me an idea; I knew a lot of people (not all bought my magazines. I wish. Haha) so I added to my thank you note that I was collecting clothes to give to the homeless on a date in the morning before 9am. I called a homeless centre and said I would give them the clothes if they never sell them to homeless. You can imagine how excited I was when I got 2 taxi’s full of clothes. Well I can say the excitement left for a second because I had to pay for the taxi’s. Haha
I was still homeless but I had done something so good for others that it felt good inside. That day I was hurting all over because of moving bags of clothes but I felt bullet proof.
A month or two later I had have many of people hearing about giving clothes to the homeless and asking when I was doing it again. So I did. I set a date and told people to bring more clothes. I called another homeless centre (I like sharing the love) and said I was coming and maybe expect 2 taxi loads. One of my customers said “Grant if you want we could do a BBQ and feed them when they came to get the clothes” I called the centre and they said we could do that at the park.
I started asking for more things to give and help the homeless, 4 weeks later my first BBQ was at Musgrave Park and clothes, food and drinks were handed out free to about 400 homeless or in need. The thing that made me most proud was I at the time was still homeless. I continued doing BBQ’S for the homeless every 2 months or so.
12 months ago I got on my feet and started a Shoe Shinning business which I made very successful. Then 3 months I was told from blood results I have a blood disorder call Polycythaemia vera. I gave up the shoe shinning business so I was able to do all the tests and get treatment. To be honest I wasn’t worried about it because I had no idea what it was. Then the booklets came from the Leukaemia Foundation and I became a little scared. Haha.
I gave up my Shoe Shinning business and went back to doing the Big Issue which I could work around the hours of getting tests and treatment done.
So now I think it’s best because as a Big Issue Vendor I’m always out and about talking to homeless and people in need. So I keep seeing the need to help.
I am not homeless at the moment but I’m still allowed to sell the magazines because of my illness.