“I put a high value on seeing life through different eyes and filters.”

Name: Lydie-Anne Hampson
Born: 1983
Place of birth: Birmingham, UK
Do: Charity Worker. Part-time Photographer

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be in Ibiza
I’m half English, half French, married to Danny and we’ve got 2 kids; Asha (9) and Nate (3). We’ve lived here coming up to 7 years and are part of 24-7 Ibiza on the island, a Christian community. We ended up here very unexpectedly really. We’d been pursuing living overseas and at that point, both Danny and I were working for a brain injury trust but felt we needed a change. We had coffee with friends who already lived in Ibiza and a tongue in cheek comment from them just stirred something in us. They talked about a community of Roma Gypsies who lived here and were relatively ostracised, and something in us caught fire and a year later we were here.

For the first two years, we spent a lot of time just walking around the area and praying good things on that community and those people; researching Roma history, culture and values. Trying to be respectful of them and their ways. Two years in, people just started opening up to us and we were invited to celebrate Christmas Eve with them – since then we’ve become friends with many people and are part of a little church up in Sa Penya. We’ve learned a lot from the Roma. Life is much bigger and broader now than when we arrived; I’m a part-time photographer and Danny is a private English teacher, but Sa Penya was what got us here and we’re passionate about that place and people.

People may be surprised to hear that Ibiza has a community of homeless and rough
sleepers
Yeah, it surprises me how surprised people can be! We used to walk across to Sa Penya
to pray each day, and as we walked, we’d see different people living on the streets. One day I heard a Brummie accent almost as strong as mine and we got chatting to a guy called John, who said he was trying to sell enough art to do a load of washing at the launderette. I offered to do his laundry for him and he ended up coming to lunch and becoming a good friend. He used to have a bath at our house too; he even fixed the shower for us one day when it was broken! Friendship with John started something for us; I think he opened our eyes to the homeless community. Just like with any new friends, they introduce you to their friends who then become your friends, and so it goes on. It was eye-opening and heart breaking to hear of their Ibiza experience; certainly they weren’t living the Ibiza dream or claiming their bit of paradise, like many people we knew were.

We don’t have any set ‘job’, but we do what we can. We wash clothes, hand out new items, cook meals, buy sleeping bags and tents, spend time, listen. Hopefully we show people our love and meet the needs we can. Each Christmas we put on an English meal with crackers, turkey, cranberry sauce – the whole shebang. We have so much fun together! Our kids play football with the guys, it feels like family. I’d hate for our friends on the streets to feel they’d become a
project. I hope and pray each friend feels loved and seen for who they are, not for their
status as ‘homeless’.

Tell us a bit more about 24-7 Ibiza
We’re part of an international movement called 24-7 Prayer, and they’re all over the world, but 24-7 Ibiza started about 20 years ago in San Antonio. It was serving those in the West End who’d taken something that didn’t go down too well or got themselves into a bit of a mess with too much drink. They’d look after people, hold their hair back as they threw up, get people safely back to hotels or the medical centre. But they’d also chat with people and pray with them if they wanted it. This is all still happening 20 years later. Now 24-7 have a centre in the West End, used for all sorts but essentially to serve the local community. We also have a bi-lingual Sunday church that gathers too. In all things, our aim as 24-7 is to love Jesus and love others, that can obviously look different in different places! There is a core team of nine (plus a few kids) who live here all year round. As for mine and Danny’s role, well really it’s just to love and serve people here in Ibiza Town. That can look different every day. It might mean we’re sat on a bench with someone; cooking for others; in the prison visiting; praying with someone. There’s lots of variety but the thread through it all is being with people.

You have a creative daughter who is also keen to help Ibiza’s homeless
Yeah, bless her she’s such a lovely soul! She’s been making earrings and selling them, and giving all of the proceeds towards things for the homeless! She’s got a Facebook page called Asha Originals. We buy old broken jewelry at San Jordi market then cut it up and reuse it; also quite a few friends have given us their old stuff to reuse. I love that Asha was moved by our homeless friends’ stories and has done something proactive to help. It gives me hope for the future when kids can see outside of their immediate lives and needs, and show kindness and compassion with
no expectation of anything in return. So, if anyone wants a little local gift that gives something back to the community, do take a look.

What could we all do to help the homeless and those in need?
I think big change is made up of small actions, so I think small things are key. My temptation is to give a practical answer; cook an extra meal and see if anyone living near you on the streets is hungry. But actually, I felt really moved recently when a friend said what they needed was more love, connection and to be seen. To see past that label of ‘homeless’. There’s an entire person to get to know. Sometimes we make assumptions and judgments about people and how they ended up on the streets. I reckon the world is full of that stuff and doesn’t need any more. How about if we laid all that down and just showed care and compassion? I think something small we could do is to just get to know people, say hello, create a connection. Get to know that person you walk past regularly. The practical stuff is clearly very important too, but the connection is vital, I think.

Tell us a bit about your Wednesday wave at the prison.
Wednesdays have become a highlight of our week and a solid part of our weekly family rhythm. One of our friends is in prison but can see a camino from his cell. Each week we go to that camino and at 9pm when he is locked in his cell, the four of us wave like mad and blow exaggerated kisses. We don’t see our friend’s face, just his arms waving through the bars. The funny thing is now there are others waving out of their cells too; people we don’t know at all. With our friend though, it’s always incredibly moving and emotional…to have no communication but a whole lot of connection. It’s special for our kids too, who both love this friend.

We’re experiencing a culture within a culture

Do you have a favourite Ibiza place?
So many places have been special to us over the years. Living with Dalt Vila on our doorstep is pretty immense. Growing up in Birmingham I’m not sure I’ll ever get over how breathtaking this place is. I hope I never do. At the moment we absolutely love Es Codolar; it’s always quiet and peaceful and it’s exactly what we need as we live right in the heart of town, constantly surrounded by people. There’s a beautiful sabine tree that I’m a bit obsessed with photographing, the waves always sound beautiful on the stones, the sun sets gently behind Sa Caleta, the dirt is red. It fills up our souls and we come away feeling recharged. We usually try and take a picnic and just chill as a family there. It’s definitely a special place for us.

What would you like to do before your next big birthday?
Am I allowed to pretend my next big birthday is thirty and not actually forty? I think by my next birthday I’d love to be better at Spanish. We do everything in Spanish, but there’s a lot of room for improvement. Also, Asha and I make beeswax moisturisers, I’d love to really try and see if there’s something to grow there. My dream would be to make the product with the homeless and Roma people and then put the money back into the community. A little social enterprise business. I would love to give it a real go and see if there’s mileage in it by the time I turn forty.

What makes Ibiza special for you?
It’s a beautiful place to live and as a photographer I love that, but what I especially love is the variety of people you meet. On any given day we might have spent time with people from completely different walks of life and that’s very special. There’s no one ‘Ibiza’ type. I love that my kids are growing up with such a richness to their lives. Our experience here has been that our friends have taken on a greater significance. Not having family close by, friends have stepped into those roles and become extra important to us. We’ve experienced births, deaths, high and lows here, and our friends have been with us every step of the way – I’m so grateful for
them. I also love living in a different culture and then living life alongside Roma friends; we’re experiencing a culture within a culture too. I put a high value on seeing life through different eyes and filters. Sometimes I’ll be sat somewhere with someone totally different from me, and I marvel at the privilege. I think Ibiza is so special like that, such a small place but such a melting pot of cultures, traditions and nationalities. Sometimes it’s a challenge, I’m forced to reflect on my own views and often change is needed – but what a great honour.

Who would you most like to sit next to on a long-haul flight and why?
If it’s not my immediate family (though I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t want to be sat next to my three-year-old on a long-haul flight) I think it would have to be Bruce Parry. He’s just the most amazing anthropologist and filmed the series’ Tribe and Amazon. He would live with remote people groups and just learn from them and about them. He drew out so much beauty and depth. I reckon he’d be full of incredible stories. His programmes were always filmed so sensitively and judgement-free. I was very inspired by the way closed communities welcomed him in because they saw the manner with which he approached them; in an open, intrigued and loving way. He’s been an inspiration for the way we live and approach the many cultures we live amongst here.

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