How did you become homeless?
I came out of a two-bedroom accommodation, which was full of drugs that weren’t mine, with people coming in and out. I had my son living with me, and then my son went to live with my brother, and I’d just come out onto the streets. You can’t bring him out here, on the streets. Not a 14-year-old boy, it’s too much for him. So up to now I just come here all the time, and come different places. Keep myself to myself and don’t do anything else.
I can’t think how long it’s been. I went to Scotland before Christmas, to see someone there, but I overstayed myself, so I decided to come back. I was writing letters to my son. I came back for my son, to make it easier for him and myself.
Where have you been staying?
In the town, but not with everybody else, all the stuff that’s going on. I’m not into that, so I just stay out the way. I get up in the morning, come here. I come here to do all sorts of things. They have computers and arts and crafts. I come on a Friday to the gardens and stay there for the afternoon. I like to do a bit of gardening.
So do you think places like Barnabus are really helpful?
Yeah they are, they are really good, there’s lots of things going on. I look for places to live. Normally they have all the computers on the top of the counters. They have arts and crafts and then you swap over with people.
I keep myself occupied by going out to the library. I read the Chinese newspapers, I can’t understand them but I like looking at the pictures, I can see what they do. It keeps me occupied and off the streets.
I know you can pay to stay in accommodation, what have been your experiences with that?
Too dear, and if your criteria doesn’t match what they’re asking for, you’re back out on the streets. I do it my own way, sort myself out. I come here for help as well though where I’m always talking to people.
What would you want people to know about homelessness?
I wouldn’t know what to say. I can sit in here and talk to you, but when you go outside it’s different. You’re like a different person when you go outside. But it’s good coming in cause you’ve got your clothes, showers, meals. I like to do it myself though as there’s gonna be times when you can’t rely on people, I’m not wasting my time, I just get on with it.
But I want them to know how good this place is, and other places. You know what I mean, there’s more than one place that’s open like this, some places are open earlier, but I always come to here. If I start swapping round and going to other places I feel like I’ve gotta start fresh, but I know everyone here. So I wanna stay where I am now, with everyone here, and I know if I need anyone to talk to I’ve got the staff.
What are your plans for the future then?
Tuesday I’m going to see a place to live. I was on the computer here, I called and I am going to see one on Tuesday. It’s shared accommodation, but it gets me off the streets. Shared accommodation is shared accommodation, you can’t be too fussed. I put my name down for a single room, but it happens. Because I’m not like some of these people, I keep to myself.
I phone my son now and again, and I have told him about getting a place, so I just gotta wait now and see what happens. Other than that I’m doing quite well.
So this accommodation you are waiting to hear back from could be permanent?
Yeah, put myself on the straight and narrow. But I don’t know, I take it day by day, and if I get a flat, I get a flat, just keep myself going. Not much else I can do.