My name is Patrick and I sit here writing this in the wake of the attacks in Beirut and Paris and the fallout from that.
I’m originally from West Belfast and now living in Portadown and it weighs heavy on my heart that there is a selection of society that are quick to judge.
This is a story how the people whom I’ve encountered and now work with live by the motto of not judging.
It was there as a stranger, just in off the street I was shown love, compassion, someone to listen to me and who could offer help.
The staff never judged me and through their help I’m now happy, content and willing to help others.
I’ve now worked here for three years and in that time I’ve come across many tragic stories but what I’ve learnt is that whom ever comes across the door I don’t judge! Poverty, mental health, housing issues can affect anyone at any time and no matter race, creed, colour all these issues are in our community.
So as you read this I ask you not to judge anyone because they are different to you. Whether it’s a simple smile at someone you pass in the street instead of putting your head down or encountering a person in everyday life, try and take a moment to get to know them.
You might not agree with their ideas but you’ll come away with a better understanding of them.
So remember where you are from or your political stance, a smile or kind hello is so much better than a harsh word,
My outlook on life now is one of give everyone a chance, don’t be quick to judge, instead show compassion.
In Portadown we now have such a diverse community. It’s no longer a white Catholic or Protestant town. It’s a society made from many different backgrounds. We help people as the saying goes “born and bred” here but also from every walk of life.
We are determined to integrate and include not exclude.
We look forward and not back!
I will leave you with this thought: you don’t drive a car by looking in the rear view mirror, and I’d like to think, like me, you’re looking forward.