St Andrews student raises funds for homeless woman

Elizabeth Graham has spearheaded a campaign to raise money for St Andrews homeless lady Julie. Image: Elizabeth Graham
Elizabeth Graham has spearheaded a campaign to raise money for St Andrews homeless lady Julie. Image: Elizabeth Graham
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A SCOTTISH university student started a fundraising campaign for a homeless woman after stopping to chat to her on the street.

Elisabeth Gray, a social anthropology student, now in her fourth year at the University of St Andrews, started a Crowdfunder page to support local homeless woman Julie after passing her on the town’s Market Street.

After the campaign was online for only 11 days, 45 backers came forward to help raise the £500 target - including £50 from Fife North East SNP MP Stephen Gethins.

Miss Graham said: “I just kept seeing her [Julie] in the street and she makes eye contact with you, so she’s difficult to avoid! She was constantly looking at people and smiling at them.

“One day, she said ‘Hi, how are you?’ and we talked. I offered to buy her a sandwich and to see if I could help her out.

“I was later sitting in a pub with friends, listening to people talking about the refugee crisis who were saying that we need to help our own first. I told them about Julie, who they’d walked past in the street, and decided to do my part.”

Elizabeth secured her fundraising total after 11 days with the support of 45 backers. Image: Facebook

Elizabeth secured her fundraising total after 11 days with the support of 45 backers. Image: Facebook

Julie, a veterinary nurse who has ambitions to become a surgeon, escaped from an abusive household and chose to sleep rough in St Andrews instead of her native town of Kirkcaldy because of the “kinder and more generous” people there.

She was often seen with a sign detailing her benefits cut and her Jack Russell dog Tilly, who has since been separated from her.

The successful Crowdfunder campaign has also coincided with Julie securing council accomodation in the town, instead of the accomodation originally proposed to her in Dundee over 14 miles away.

READ MORE: Skye photographer documents Syrian refugee crisis

Julie has become a familiar face on Market Street in Saint Andrews. Image: Google

Julie has become a familiar face on Market Street in Saint Andrews. Image: Google

Miss Graham said: “She’s now got a flat from the council which she’s preparing to move into on the 22nd. I’m planning to give her the money soon, so she doesn’t have to carry the cash about on the street.

“I’ve offered to help her out if she wants to buy new things for the flat, too.”

Julie has also been to a doctor to treat her lupus - one side effect of the condition is that it makes her hand swells painfully, particularly in colder weather.

Miss Graham added: “I would like to do more to help out in future.

“I’ve applied for a scholarship from the university to help refugees in Europe, as I studied in Copenhagen last year. I worked in a boardgame cafe which offered free tea, coffee and snacks to refugees to help people socialise.

“Julie tells me to work with refugees, because they need help more. She is understanding and a great listener.”