When I was on the streets as a teenager homelessness wasn't so much of a big issue. It wasn't until the Cathy Come Home film that it became a huge issue. But I can remember when I ran away from home and came to London in search of a different life but being a drug user not being able to read and write wasn't the best start and at that time in my life I was already a mess and my life became a nightmare after I moved to this city.
Being homeless for most youngsters at first was like starting a new adventure. The big city and it's bright lights. Where the magnet as they are still are today. There are dangers to being homeless, which are still prevalent today. Drugs, prostitution, alcohol
Youngster's runaway to this city to hide from whatever because its big and in doing so they can disappear off the social radar. The trouble is they get permanently lost. There were thousands in the early sixties and seventies all over the country the same age as me. We were sleeping in make shift huts in the bullring in waterloo, in cardboard boxes at Charing Cross, in shop doorways along the Strand the fact that we were seen and ignored is what made the situation what it was and still is today. Things are slightly better but it's still a struggle to get into accommodation and to get any kind of education is not easy. When I go out to talk to homeless people at night I have seen an increase in youngsters on the streets and they all say the same, had to leave home, can't get any benefits, can't get work. And there are some that have moved off the streets to the vice of Soho. It's such a pity because a helping hand is all some need.
What we need is to teach children in schools of the dangers of running away and try to show them real life and what homeless people go through. We also need to show them how degrading life can be when you become desperate.
I only succeeded in changing my life because I had help. Without it I probably would have returned to the street the same as I was. There are many people that I know that have not made it as far as I have. Some are still homeless with no hope of getting out of the vicious circle of homelessness and that's all homelessness, drugs and alcohol are, vicious bloody circles with no end. If you have ever seen a magician with the three ring trick. the rings are looped together and with one quick slight of hand they separate. Well that's exactly what we need to cure the homeless problem we have in this country. A white wizard would be better.
I can speak from my own experience of the streets and believe me when I say I have been close to doing things I would regret today