“I went from being a housing manager to being homeless, and lived in a cave for about a year”

cave1

A few years ago I had a nervous breakdown through overworking. I worked as a manager for a house in a multiple occupation block, running the place. But I jacked it in, not thinking about my house being tied to the job. Things had got too much.

So, having been a housing manager, I was homeless. I lived in a cave for about a year – a sea cave above the high tide line. It was safe and I kept myself warm enough in my tent. It was fine until the local authority threw me out.

I decided to walk along the south coast, from Margate to Bournemouth, with my dog Chloe. By the time I’d arrived I only had 29 pence in my pocket. So I went into The Big Issue office.

Someone immediately realised there was a problem. I was in a bad way, suffering from depression and low self-respect. But they got me badged up and helped me apply for Employment and Support Allowance.

I got a good pitch at the library, and people around me – customers and people in shops and cafés – were very supportive and friendly. That helped immensely and I started to get my confidence back. Selling the magazine has been great. I’m in a far better place.

I still struggle with depression but I agree with what Chrissie Hynde said in her interview in The Big Issue recently – better to fight it than give in to it.

When a new pitch came up next to M&S the owner asked for me personally – I’m a well-known vendor in the town. I was quite proud of that.

I’m also an arts advocate for the Bournemouth Arts By the Sea Festival. Last year I did everything from helping erect tripods to acting as a fire marshall at the theatre. I’ll be doing more organising this year – running around like a headless chicken, no doubt.

Bournemouth is a lovely place, just right for me – I prefer being out of the city or along the coast. There’s great walks here and I love walking along the coast with Chloe. I’ve made a lot of progress – I have a little flat now.

Life isn’t perfect by any means but I’m in a better place than I’ve been for years.

One man & his… Chloe, my dog, is nine years old now. She’s an Irish Staffordshire bull terrier and she’s with me all the time. I’ve had her since she was 12 weeks old so we’ve been together a long time.

On my pitch… I’m there from 8.30am until around 2.30pm most days, some days I’ll work longer into the afternoon.

_dsc1868

 

This article is taken from ‘The Big Issue’ 2015

Advertisements