Charity boss gives thanks to Highland ‘angel’ after she saved a homeless woman who was given one-way ticket to Inverness
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An “angel” who stepped in to help a vulnerable woman walking on the A82 has been praised for her actions.
Joanne Chisholm (43) from Torvean Avenue went out of her way on Easter Sunday to find the woman and get her the help she needed.
The 53-year-old homeless woman from Birmingham, was given a one-way ticket to the Highland capital but had been walking on the A82 for about a week before Ms Chisholm found her at the side of the road, freezing cold and starving, and took her to safety.
Ms Chisholm, who lost her job due to the pandemic, then secured the woman two nights in homeless accommodation, fed her and then bought her a ticket to put her on a train to meet charity workers in Edinburgh.
She was then taken back home to Birmingham.
Clare Whittaker, founder of charity Helping Hands Birmingham, said the vulnerable woman who has been homeless and living on the streets for seven-and-a-half years – was given the travel ticket north by a medical professional who was unaware she had a mental health condition.
She arrived in the west Highlands on March 26 before setting out to walk to Inverness.
Ms Whittaker said: “She is a wonderful woman who is very vulnerable and questions need to be answered about why she was given a ticket to the city.
“Over the years I have known her, she has never used drugs or alcohol, and generally lives in doorways. When I had not seen her for a couple of weeks I made enquiries to find out what had happened.
“I then found out that someone had given her a one-way ticket to Inverness, believing that she had family in the area. But she has never even been to Scotland before, and both her children live down here.”
Concerned that she would be cold and hungry, she placed messages on Inverness Facebook pages.
She found out that a pastor in Fort William had picked the homeless woman up and had taken her to hospital as she was suffering from the cold and was sleeping rough.
After being discharged from there she was found “soaking wet” in Spean Bridge before again moving off.
Ms Whittaker then contacted the police and officers made contact with her in Fort Augustus. She told them she was fine.
It was then that Ms Chisholm saw the Facebook message and set out to look for the woman coming across her cold and walking on the roadside.
She said: “I do not think she would have survived the night. She was cold and hungry. I was shocked to learn she was only 53 as she looked as though she was in her late 70s.
“I stopped and asked her to get into my car. She did, and I convinced her to go to hospital. A friend and I then arranged to get her into a homeless flat. She fell asleep immediately.
“I took her back some soup and food and she ate it all. She was exhausted and hungry.
“The following day Clare put money into my bank account and I got her onto a train to Edinburgh. The GNER staff were incredible and she met up with Clare in Edinburgh.
“She then took her back to homeless accommodation in Birmingham.”
She is now being supported to find permanent accommodation down south and has no plans to return to Scotland, which she described to charity workers as “very cold.”
Ms Whittaker added: “I cannot thank the people of Inverness enough for everything they did, but in particular Joanne, who is simply my angel of Scotland and deserves every bit of praise for all the help she gave to a stranger.”