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Homeless Londoners Explain Why They’re Living On The Streets

The number of new rough sleepers in London from April–July 2014 was 23% higher than the same period last year, according to St Mungo’s Broadway’s latest Street to Home report.

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“I split up from my wife in May last year and I’ve got no other family. … I had nowhere else to go; it was either me and my wife, or nowhere.”

“I refused to be part of an arranged marriage. … Now I’ve fallen through the cracks and ended up in this tunnel.”

“I lost my wife in a car accident and came to the UK, to Birmingham, to bury her. I came to London but my sister’s moved out of the city and I don’t know where to start. I can go back to Ireland if I want to but I’d be in the same boat as I am here.”

“I left myself homeless by leaving my marriage. The council still say, ‘That’s not our problem.' I’ve got a hostel coming up next week that I got through The Passage.”

The Passage Day Centre offers advice, learning, food, and support services to homeless people.

“I left Switzerland for personal reasons – I wanted to go to the US, to get as far away from Europe as possible. I went to France, Germany, then I came here. I spent all my money in hotels in the first couple of months; I’ve been living on the street for one month now.”

“I gave up my job to pursue full-time activism. Someone stole my last £400 and now I’m technically homeless.”

As well as working as an activist, Martin also writes poetry. He gave us a performance of a poem he’d written about homelessness called “The Root of All Evil”…

“I want to stay away from up north, where my family are. I didn’t want trouble with my kids. Social services knew about my drugs. … I don’t want my old lady to not be able to see her kids.”

“I was getting death threats. They smashed our front windows in and threatened to kill me if they saw me on the streets. My landlord threw me out and I came down to London.”

“I came out because of domestic violence. I met my wonderful partner, Tyrell, on the street. The council have decided they don’t house homeless couples, but they’ve finally decided to put us in a hostel together. … I’ve got a beautiful baby girl who’s a year old.”

“I’ve got addiction problems. I had a bit of bad news and I ended up relapsing. I was in a program and they take urine samples – mine was positive and I was asked to leave. I’ve been clean for three months now. … I lost a couple of friends a few weeks back; their organs just shut down. That scares me… The thought of dying in a sleeping bag at the side of the road and nobody knowing I’m gone.”

“My relationship with my ex-wife broke down after she cheated on me. I feel a bit stubborn and a bit independent. … I do eventually want to sort myself out and find work, but I’ve got a few issues to work through first.”