Student raised £10k for down-and-out to return to beloved Jamaica… but the hobo REFUSED to accept it
A student who raised £10,000 with a viral campaign to help a homeless man return to Jamaica has vowed to give back the cash – after the tramp REFUSED to take it.
Jenny Baker, 23, launched a social media campaign after falling for the sob story of a tramp called ‘Michael’ on a night out in February.
Her “personal mission” to help send the 64-year-old back to his Caribbean homeland went viral and she raised the £10,000 in days.
But Jenny has been left with egg on her face after Michael vanished without accepting the cash and has ignored her attempts to contact him.
After three months of searching in vain she has vowed to refund everyone who donated to her campaign.
She said: “I genuinely thought, as I am sure many of you did too, that when money was raised that the hard work was done and the ‘simple’ matter of booking a flight home for Michael should take no time at all.
“It appears that Michael may have changed his mind about not just returning to Jamaica but also about having me or any organisations help him any further.
“I realise this is potentially something that the likes of both you and I might find difficult to understand but the last thing I have wanted to do is to make him feel like he can’t carry on the life he has chosen without being hassled about it.”
Jenny, of Rotherhithe, south-east London, met transient Michael in Dalston, north-east London, on a boozy night out and took a selfie with him.
She was so touched by his plight she started an appeal on microfunding site GoFundMe and reached her target within days.
The 23-year-old, who works for advertising company Ogilvy, said: “I said to Michael when we met that I would get him home in a year.
“He knows the money is there for him but for whatever reason, he seemingly doesn’t want it right now.”
She has pledged to return all the money to donors if he does not re-surface by July.
Jenny added: “My intention has never been to make Michael feel uncomfortable or force him into any kind of ‘limelight’ with all of this.
“It’s of course, amazing to have options but with these possibilities brings with it the scary reality that this money could end up causing Michael some problems too and that is something I honestly never considered, expected or intended when I set out on this quest and even when I watched that money going up.
“Jamaica, I have since heard, can be an exceptionally dangerous place for not only its current residents and visitors but even people returning to live there – for Michael to just go back with what is now a lot of money could have some serious repercussions for him.”
Homeless charity Thames Reach praised Jenny for her kindness and good intentions.
A spokesperson for the north London charity said: “We need more people like Jenny coming forward and showing such admirable determination to make a difference.
“I believe this has been somewhat of a learning curve for Jenny and those around her, that the situation on the streets can be more complex than the public realise and with all the best intentions.”