Joshua Coombes

#DoSomethingForNothing joshuackcoombes@gmail.com London, U.K.

http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/videos/meet-joshua-coombes/

676 posts 181,085 followers 992 following

Connection. Compassion. Empathy. Whatever you you wanna call it, it feels fucking good. #DoSomethingForNothing

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Jason gazing out at the snow. #DoSomethingForNothing || 📷 @toshio_matsuoka

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This is Travis, 21 years old. He was born in Point Hope, a small village in northern Alaska. At two years old, he moved south, to Anchorage, with his grandfather - “My grandfather told me later that he didn’t want me to live the village life so we moved us here. I still have lots of family up in the north but I don’t get to see them much anymore. I don’t know what my life would have been like if I stayed. I’m only 21 now so maybe I’ll move back one day.”
We met Travis on the first night I arrived in town. It was about -10 degrees Celsius, he was huddled with a few others, all of similar age. It’s staggering how many young people there are on the street or staying in encampments in the surrounding woods around Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city. We got talking to the group and let them know where we would be for the next few days. Travis had a quiet way about him and always a smile. As if he was away somewhere deep in thought. At the end of the haircut He took a long look in the mirror before a big smile appeared - “Yeh man! I dig this!” #DoSomethingForNothing

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Every single person I meet has their own take on life and where they are on that journey. I learn more from people living on the street than I do in any other higher aspect of my life. Huge thanks to @woolsockproject for having me here to meet the community. #DoSomethingForNothing || 📷 @mikeyhuff

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For the past week I’ve been in Alaska, working alongside the @woolsockproject. We’ve spent time in an old warehouse space, listening to the stories of the homeless communities facing sub-zero temperatures for many months of the year. Travis here is 21 years old. His story to follow tomorrow. #DoSomethingForNothing || 📷@mikeyhuff

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This is Marian, 47 years old. He is Monika's husband (whose story I posted earlier this week) Once a professional hockey player in his native Slovakia. Afterwards working as a long distance truck driver, as well as turning his hand to any manual jobs to support them. It was evident immediately that Marian had a deep strength. He showed a lot of emotion while we were together, holding my hand as we spoke to one another. On a couple of different occasions, Marian was brought to tears by our conversations. I respected him immensely. This is a man with a resilience probably difficult for most of us to comprehend. Each night, he stays awake to make sure his wife, Monika, is safe. In just eight months in France, he’s already grasped enough of he language to communicate for them and help their situation. I could see his heart was hers and his love was very real -
"I saw her at my hockey game. I knew she was the girl for me 19 years ago. I still remember the day and introducing myself. I gave her my number and we met up the next day. That was it. I was promised work here by a friend of a friend, and better money, but the job didn’t come through.” If this situation worked out, this couple could be considered brave for taking a risk and trying to better their lives. That hasn’t worked out yet but I’m routing for them. Marian told me that he is embarrassed and ashamed asking for money - “I’ve worked my whole life. I can’t get used to this...”
More of Marian and Monika’s story to come out in an e-book with @valeriejardin soon. #DoSomethingForNothing

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Some more of Paris and the beautiful Monika & Marian. @valeriejardin and I are releasing our Paris e-book later this month for you to download. Including more in-depth stories and images. Swipe :) #DoSomethingForNothing

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Monika & Marian in Paris. Memorable moments, captured beautifully by @valeriejardin - We're releasing another e-book later this month to continue telling the stories of the people we meet. #DoSomethingForNothing

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This is Monika. Originally from Bratislava, Slovakia. @valeriejardin and I met her on our trip to Paris recently. She's currently sleeping on the streets with her husband Marian. They've been married for 19 years. For the last 8 months of their relationship, Monika and Marian have been looking after one another in a way that neither one of them could have expected. Waking up next to one another other each day on cardboard and concrete, instead of a bed. Facing every challenge that accompanies living on the street. Monika told us she has trouble sleeping at night -
"I'm so grateful for my husband. He stays up during the night to make sure that I'm safe and he really protects me. I'm so thankful that we have one another. We met so long ago. He was a professional hockey player in Slovakia at the time. I went to his game. We fell in love that day." Monika has experienced harassment and offerings that I don't feel like repeating here. They've also had their belongs stolen on three separate occasions, including any hygiene products she had. When I visit Paris, I stay with my friend Charline. She has wanted to get involved in #DoSomethingForNothing so she's began collecting a selection of different women's hygiene products as donations, giving them to homeless women in the city. We went back the next day to give Monika some new things and spend some more time together.
It was difficult to leave this couple. We shared a really deep connection. I could see what it meant to them to be listened to and treated with dignity. These warm, genuinely lovely people filled up my heart. It made me happy to hear of an encounter recently that gave Monika and Marian some hope - A business man, who has been buying them coffee during the week, owns a studio apartment in the neighbourhood and is looking to see if they can stay there and look after the place while he's away. We'll see what happens. Keeping my fingers crossed for them. #DoSomethingForNothing

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Each time I go out to meet new people like this it's so real. There's no filters. There's lots of pain, but there's so much love also, and people just waiting to smile. #DoSomethingForNothing

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@christianguemy tearin' it up last weekend in Paris for Cédric and #DoSomethingForNothing
Christian joined in with this movement to share his art and celebrate the life of a beautiful man loved by many in the city 💙

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This is Bruno, 53 years old. Originally from Lille, in northern France. Bruno is a plumber by trade and worked for many years doing this in his hometown before moving to the capital. Competition was tougher than he expected in Paris so he took a job as night guard for a while. This role led him to working on the door of a homeless shelter in the city. We asked him about this experience - "I always look at people as people and this can look like many different things. I can see now how easy it is to end up out here." - Bruno then went on to say something to @valeriejardin and I that really moved us - "In those moments when I'm finding my spot to sleep on my own at night, I always keep a thought with me; There are people in worse situations than I. Ok this isn't perfect, but it could be worse and I can smile." - It was a crisp but clear day cutting Bruno's hair outside of Gare de Lyon station. A few more people gathered to join us. I love it when this happens. From nothing there is a small community of people, strangers an hour before, now enjoying each other's company #DoSomethingForNothing

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Stuart - "I broke my hip. This meant that I couldn't work for a long period. They stopped my benefits. I suppose I didn't really care enough at the time. The next thing I know, my landlord says - 'Right. You're out.' That was January 24th, 2016. I've been homeless ever since."
'The Story of Us' out now in U.K. on @natgeochannel Stuart features in 'The Power of Love' episode - catch up on TV or online. ❤️#DoSomethingForNothing

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For those of you who missed 'The Story of Us' last night in the U.K, you can catch up on @natgeochannel ! #DoSomethingForNothing in Peckham, London ❤️🇬🇧

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This is Cédric. As you can see, a very different transformation than usual. Let me introduce you to @christianguemy (C215) because without him, this beautiful mural of Cédric wouldn't have been painted. I emailed @christianguemy ten days before coming to Paris about #DoSomethingForNothing and my work in the city so far. I told him that I had recently lost a dear friend and that I wanted celebrate his life. He replied immediately and without hesitation asked me when he could help. Yesterday, I met up him and was lucky enough to watch on as he created this. Massive respect for the love and work put in. Thank you, Christian. For your passion and your art 💛✌️This mural represents Cédric and his beautiful character that is no longer with us. But, I realised, while gazing at this wall with a tear in my eye, that it represents so much more. It's for every person that's passed away on the street, forgotten by society. In life or death, I'm going to continue to make people visible the best I can. I know Cédric would have smiled knowing he played a big part in giving others some light also. Because mistakes or no mistakes, we're all human. We can't forget that. I've seen people change when treated with dignity and love. #DoSomethingForNothing

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Joesph. Paris. This week. A man carving beautiful flowers made from wood, giving them away to passers by. I swapped one for a haircut. Joseph's story to follow soon. #DoSomethingForNothing || 📷 @valeriejardin

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Bruno. Paris. This week. What a week it has been. Walking around this beautiful city each day. My landmarks have been people. Bruno's story to follow tomorrow. #DoSomethingFornothing || 📷 @valeriejardin

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This is Vlad. Aka Alin. Aka Bono. Vlad is originally from Transylvania, moving to Paris thirty years ago when he was just fifteen. He built a life here and trained to be an electrician, working for many years in the city and the surrounding suburbs. Once married with children, now divorced. Vlad has been on the streets for two months now. With the winter weather still to come, he told us that his first night sleeping out here was tough - "I didn't know where to go so I came to stay near the church. The people in this neighbourhood have been kind. At the moment I sleep in an underground car park at night to get out of the cold. Nobody has complained yet. I'm looking for more work now. I was still working for the first month that I was homeless but that became very difficult." - Vlad was full of good vibes during the haircut and seemed optimistic when speaking to me and @valeriejardin - "This is a stage in my life. There are many stages and this is one of them. This doesn't define me." #DoSomethingForNothing

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Malory. This week in Paris. A tent pitched in a side street next to a church led us to Malory and his tales of different countries and people. Currently, he is homeless and looking for a fresh start. More of his story to follow. #DoSomethingForNothing || 📷 @valeriejardin

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This is Alin. Today. Paris. Feels great to be working alongside @valeriejardin again. This is our second chapter on the street after a week together in New York last September. Alin's story to follow. Humanity exists, everywhere, everyday.
#DoSomethingForNothing

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This is Martin. Six months ago he was released from prison and has been sleeping outside since then - "It's a funny feeling, leaving your cell in the morning, picking up your belongings at the door, taking the walk back towards freedom and sleeping on the street that night." Martin has been in and out of prison a few times. I had a conversation with him about that - "I don't want to keep reoffending. To be honest I've been off my head. I know that's my own fault. I wish I never started using heroin because it's a difficult cycle to break. Torturous, in fact. I first got introduced to it at 14 years old... I didn't even realise how young that was until years later. I grew up in a nasty part of town. You had to grow up fast. I didn't have anyone to look to for guidance, just me. I managed to guide myself to some pretty desperate situations. Crime used to fuel my habit and so on and so on. I'm not asking for pity. I'm just hoping people stop and speak and listen like you have." - I spent time with Martin, and a large group of others, in the walkways near Charing Cross tube station. I used to cut hair here all the time but it's been a while. I knew, on my descent away from the photo opportunities and shopping bags of Trafalgar Square, that I'd find some people sleeping here. It's staggering. It has now turned into a mini tent city. With men and women, young and old, all calling this cold, damp, almost invisible part of central London their home for now. I tried to take in the surroundings for the few hours that I spent here. I lost count of the amount of people that got close to walking through before stopping and turning around at the last second to take another route. And you know, I completely understand. It's an intimidating first impression, with the cardboard, tents and clothes, but none of these people hurt me. Or, was rude to me. Or, made me feel threatened. I even danced with one of the girls there. The main emotion I picked up was pain, and lots of it. I never intend to paint anyone as an angel or demonise them either. But let's take a real look, at a very real issue, before we form opinions. #DoSomethingForNothing

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New friends today. We've still gotta work on that spin... 🤔#DoSomethingForNothing

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It's so inspiring to see @Leesasleep's One-Ten programme spread further and further, donating new mattresses across the USA, U.K, and Europe. But their social impact doesn't stop there. Having partnered with Leesa for a year now, I've seen firsthand how they build genuine relationships in the communities they serve. I'm really proud to be a part of it 🙌🏽

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This Toby, 19 years old. He sleeps on the streets when he can't get a place in the hostel that he visits in London. Some nights he can't afford it - "It's not always that easy to make enough money to get in somewhere each night. I don't usually sit around in the same spot all day, I move around a lot. I slept on the trains sometimes... I used to live with my mum but we don't get along anymore. It's difficult to talk about that stuff. We still keep in touch when we can but I can't live with her anymore." As I was cutting Toby's hair, a few people stopped to speak with us. He was so friendly and polite to everyone - "You've got to have people to talk to right? Otherwise you'd go crazy. I know I won't be here forever so I'd like to think I'd give time to someone else in this position." - It's difficult to think back in my biggest troubles at 19 years old and draw a comparison with Toby's worries at present. I hope things brighten up for him, he's optimistic. A conversation. I've seen how something so small can genuinely give someone hope. #DoSomethingForNothing

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I take so much from each person I meet whenever I'm out to @dosomethingfornothing - Strangers become friends. I stay in touch whenever I can. This is Tomás, I saw him downtown in Los Angeles. He didn't have a phone, or any other belongings apart from the clothes he was wearing, so I haven't been able to speak with him again since we met. I found Tomás passed out on the sidewalk, on a busy street. He looked like a zombie when I first woke him. It wasn't long before a human being reappeared. #DoSomethingForNothing

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The new year will bring a chance at a fresh start for many of us. Out with the old and in with the new. For that chance to be truly realised, we need a certain amount of belief from others.

2017 has been a year in which I've learnt more about life than I have before. I'm still searching, I think we always will be. I have no answers to offer but I have found a truth that's a constant; making others smile will always make you feel worth in the short time we have here on this beautiful planet. The way we interact with one another each day really does matter. It's the fabric of who we are as humans and how far we've come. We're intelligent enough to see beyond the prejudices that we hold and the restrictions that divide us. Acceptance. Understanding. Forgiveness. Compassion. Truly embracing these words can be stronger than any weapon. So out with old, in with the new. Here to 2018. I believe in people and the incredible potential that we all have. Peace, love, gratitude and the happiest new year 🌍❤️#DoSomethingForNothing

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This is 'Irish Mike' I met him in Washington Square Park, NYC, last summer. Although Mike is homeless, each week he spends time helping others in a similar situation. @valeriejardin and I met him during our week together back in September. Read Mike's story and others - Link to #DoSomethingForNothing Ebook in bio.

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Friends. Christmas. 2017

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The universe has brought some really special people into my life this year. The six months Hal Samples and I have known each other already feels like years, in the best kinda way. Thanks for being you brother. The past week, we hit NYC and Dallas to start something we're looking forward to sharing with you soon... @gorillaarthouseen #DoSomethingForNothing

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This is Terry. Most of you will probably remember him and his girlfriend Eveylon. I cut their hair back in September. Fate brought us together once more this week. I was so happy to see them again. In a city the size of New York, it was a shock for us to run into each other, in a completely different spot. The love I felt between them is still very much intact, despite still spending most nights out on the street. I found out Terry and Eveylon went to City Hall here recently and got married ❤️ I gave Terry haircut number two and we spent a long time talking. I look forward to sharing more of their story soon.
#DoSomethingForNothing

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