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(BBC) – This picture captures the moment a homeless man arrived for his first day of work, after being offered a permanent job by a businessman he had asked for “spare change” on a Newcastle street.
Posted on Facebook on Thursday, a photo of their first encounter has been shared more than 4,000 times and prompted 11,000 interactions.
Ryan Davidson, 25, has been looking for permanent housing for two years. He told BBC News he now had hope for the future.
“James was walking past me, so I asked him for spare change,” he said.
“He stopped and seemed like a genuine, nice guy.
“We chatted for a while and then he said he had a company and could offer me a job – I couldn’t believe it.”
James Minns, who owns a paint-coating company in the city, had been enjoying a meal to celebrate his wedding anniversary, with his wife and two friends, moments earlier.
“I saw Ryan’s big smile and we started talking,” James told BBC News.
“If you were offered a job, would you take it?” James asked. “100%,” replied Ryan.
James told Ryan where his factory was and they shook hands on the job offer, with Ryan promising to turn up for work on the factory floor.
One good turn deserves another
But what James thought was an innocent Facebook post about the encounter soon began gathering pace.
“I logged into my Facebook on Friday and there were hundreds of notifications and thousands of friend requests – I couldn’t believe it,” James told BBC News.
“Fingers crossed he takes the opportunity,” posted one Facebook user. Another post read: “Our county needs more companies like you to believe in these people.”
One of the people who responded to James after seeing the post was Ryan’s aunt. And she was able to provide a mobile phone number on which he could be contacted.
James rang Ryan on Friday to confirm his start time on Monday.
And his optimism increased when Ian Cutts, a local milkman, who had also seen the Facebook post, offered to collect Ryan for his first day and give him a lift to the factory.
By Sunday, however, Ryan had stopped answering his phone. And, at 06:30 on Monday, when Ian arrived at the meeting point they had agreed, there was no sign of Ryan.
James alerted his growing band of Facebook followers, telling them: “Morning everyone, unfortunately Ryan didn’t show up. Ian Erniethemilkman Cutts was there at 6.30am to pick him up. Waited 30 mins and he didn’t show. I’ve rang him several times and got no answer too. Totally gutted tbh.”
And the news provoked a downturn in mood on the social network.
“Such a shame” read one Facebook post.
However, the story does have a happy ending.
Ryan had had to attend an emergency housing appointment on Monday morning and had been unable to let James know as his phone had run out of credit.
But he turned up for work bright and early the next day and, he told BBC News, his first day on the job could not have gone better.
“I am so grateful to James,” he said. “I love my job and everybody has made me feel so welcome. We’re like one big happy family.”
James told BBC News the social media reaction to his Facebook posts had prompted so many other offers of help for Ryan and “messages from people who want to see him do well” he had now set up fundraising web page for him
“We are going to use the proceeds to find Ryan permanent housing,” he added.
And Ryan told BBC News he had been simply overwhelmed by the response.
“It has opened my eyes to how generous and kind people can be,” he said.
“I’ve never met anyone like James – he has changed my life completely.”