6-year-old Scottish boy delivers hot drinks & a smile to help the homeless people in Edinburgh feel good
When the magic of morning sunlight hits the ground on Princes Street in Edinburgh, Scotland, the homeless population starts looking for a sweet little face.
The face they’re looking for belongs to little 6-year-old Alfie, who is known in these parts for delivering hot beverages, words of positivity and a big smile.
Most kids Alfie’s age spend their Saturday mornings sleeping in, watching cartoons or playing video games in their jammies. But Alfie Roncero isn’t an ordinary 6-year-old, he’s an angel on earth and he loves serving people.
As children usually do, Alfie started asking his father, Richard, about “why people are always sitting on the ground.” Thinking about the question deeply, Richard decided to turn the little one’s question into a teaching opportunity about those who are less fortunate.
That led to the youngster joining Richard, 36, as a volunteer offering hot drinks and some positive words to those who are sleeping on the streets.
So now every Saturday, Alfie spends the first part of his weekend getting up with his dad and going on an early morning run to help those who need it most.
The dynamic duo visit Princes Street and various other “popular” spots where homeless people are known to set up camp and offer a hot drink and some simple compassion – it goes a long way.
“I wanted to teach him that we need to be kind to people,” Richard told The Scotsman.
“I think it’s so important to show our kids that no matter where we end up in life, we should always show love, respect, and compassion to other people,” he added.
“When handing out the coffees Alfie said that ‘these people must be really cold’ this was Alfie starting to see what being homeless truly means and the struggles they face.”
The young father went on to say that he knew some people would think his son is too young to volunteer on Edinburgh’s streets but he thinks it’s “important that Alfie understands”.
“I want to instill morals and values into my son so he grows up not judging people, but willing to reach out and help where he can.”
And the little one became very popular with Edinburgh’s homeless community too. One person on the street even called him “a little angel” as he Alfie passed a steaming coffee to her.
“Alfie is a very clever little boy and has such a kind heart. I’m really proud to call him my son,” Richard said beaming with pride.
Richard is a recovering cocaine addict who is now helping other addicts and in April 2018 founded Steps to Hope, an Edinburgh charity tackling homelessness caused by addiction.
He does regular coffee runs for the homeless which gets him out of bed at 6am to drive around the streets of Edinburgh looking for homeless people before heading into work.
“I go into cemeteries, the back streets, Princess Street Gardens and count how many people we can see. Then we buy the coffees and deliver the hot drinks and information leaflets to them.”
As Alfie’s questions went deeper and his understanding of the situation increased, Richard knew it might be time to educate his son on the past that was once his life.
Richard knows first-hand what it’s like to sleep on the streets in Edinburgh streets in in the winter. He also wants to try and break the stigma on homeless people and addicts living on the streets.
“From a young age I always had little confidence and low self-esteem. I struggled my way through school always trying to be accepted by my peers and masking my anxiety and insecurities with humor,” Richard told The Scotsman.
Richard, now five years clean, said cocaine was his “answer to life” and helped him cope with his fears and anxiety.
“From the moment I took that first line all my fears disappeared. I had confidence, I could speak to people without worrying about how I was coming across.”
However, this quickly led to Richard relying on cocaine as a tool for life.
Richard described these years as “hell on earth” but finally managed to recover after a mentor helped him follow a 12-step process.
Since recovering Richard has bought a house, holds down a full-time job and has reconnected with his family who had “washed their hands of him”.
“As we approach winter and the cold weather is already on us, I hope more people can show some love to those who find themselves sleeping on our streets.”
“I’ve seen the heartache in their eyes as I take them their coffee in the mornings. A lot of these people are suffering from addiction, which is an illness they don’t have a solution for.”
“Having someone give them their time, a couple of minutes’ chat, something hot to drink and eat really does deliver hope to those who have given up.”
And as for Alfie, he’s learning not only some valuable life lessons, but also learning basic human decency, compassion and empathy. And that our dear friends, is Majic!
Photo credit: Ian Georgeson Photography