I spent most of my working life in the Merchant Navy, and then in between I got married, had a couple of mortgages, they didn’t work out. I ended up in working the ferries in Dover and that finished. After another relationship breakdown I ended up in London just drifting. Christmas 1999 I was at Crisis at Christmas in Clapham Junction, got involved with the art classes there - and got spotted by a guy that had his own advertising firm – a volunteer at the shelter – he liked my stuff, and we took it from there really. I got re-housed and then that didn’t work out. I ended up on the street on and off, through alcohol abuse mainly, and just um, irresponsible behaviour. I went to rehab and then came out, and got re-housed by St Mungos, and I got put in my own flat and I’ve been there just over 3 years. I met Citz via Crisis Skylight when I was in there doing art I noticed they were having activities in their spaces, and I’ve been a member of the Citz for over 10 years now. Proudest moment was having a piece of my work performed in Dust, by Tim Arthur – our hero!
I like the challenges here – I like to have a challenge so I can rise to it - which sometimes I don’t - but I do have a bash and there’s always something to aim for here. I’ve learnt communication and interpersonal skills, I’ve learnt how to – what’s the word – become less erratic (I think) although I do have my moments.
I enjoy the activities here and because alcohol isn’t permitted it’s helped me to stay dry really, and behave myself. I’m really looking forward the advanced writing course, and I’m looking to set up my own charity – a foundation for artists from non traditional backgrounds.
Further down the line I’d like to get a bigger place that what I’ve got now, because I’ve got children and grandchildren – 6 of em! – but I’d really like a bigger place to accommodate them when they come visit.
Working with the company has given me a sense of purpose and direction, so I’m not just meandering through life leaving a vapour trail of social destruction behind me! You can quote me on that. Cardboard Citizens has helped me progress creatively, psychologically, and personally.
Homelessness to me is just living day to day, just surviving. Luckily I’m pretty self sufficient – I manage to get through more than a lot of people do. And also you find a lot of vulnerable people out there, and I’ve helped a lot of them. Those that are beyond help, you soon recognise them and you just have to move on – leave it the experts.
Creativity is an outlet for all sorts of things. There’s a lot of frustration out there and it’s a good way to express yourself.
The Government needs to listen to people more – one shoe doesn’t fit all. People need tailor made help – which is what Cardboard Citizens does. You can’t just bracket everyone in the same...bracket.