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Everybody In

Stand against homelessness. End it for good.

Imagine a world without homelessness. We know it can be done. But we need Everybody In to make it happen.

Read and share our real life stories of homelessness, to help change attitudes and build a movement for change.

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Our storyteller George is out there every day speaking to real people about their experiences of homelessness. Read and share these stories below. Let’s get the conversation started and change opinions.

'Football was all I cared about from when I left nursery at four years old. They couldn’t distract me with anything else. I never learnt anything at school. I just wanted to do sport. Girls didn’t play football back then though so I always had to play with the boys. I could do things with the ball that none of them could do, but I had to pretend I wasn't a girl to play with them. All the other boys called me Dennis. When I got to ten or eleven it started to become awkward. I’d have to go the matches in my kit because I couldn’t go into the changing room. I never saw another girl play in the boys team ever. I played netball as well but that was only because the school wrote a letter to my mum saying that unless I did some more feminine pastimes I wouldn’t be allowed to play football at all.'

Read Denise's story now

'My wife and I had a bit of crazy relationship really. We were married for 23 years and we had four kids but eventually we broke up when I was 61. I only had my state pension and the problem was I still had a tenancy on the house we shared so I was classed as intentionally homeless by the council. I slept in my Volvo for 3 weeks until I got reversed into by a lorry while I was sleeping in a lay-by and after that I took my tent into the woods and found a quite place where no one could find me. I was lucky in a way because I had my pension for food, and in winter it was just a matter of careful insulation, but there were lots of other people in worse situations. You don't realise how many of them there are until you look for them.'

Read Austen's story now

'I’ve always struggled with dyslexia. I still can’t read and write properly and I can’t add up very well either. I can’t even remember my own telephone number. When I was school I just didn’t have a clue what they were on about. Especially in maths. I never learnt anything. I was a bit boisterous and I just got the cane all the time. The teacher would say you’re nothing but a waste of space and kick me out of class. I spent most of my childhood in the cloakroom. They didn’t know about dyslexia then. The just thought I was being difficult for the sake of it.'

Read Lawrie's story now

'Maybe because of the problems I had at home I think I always found it easier to walk away from difficult situations than engage with them, and when I was growing up I think being a tramp appealed in a way. I never thought I’d end up on the streets but escaping from other people seemed like a lifestyle of freedom. After a while of actually living that way though you realize you’re just running away from things and it catches up with you. You can’t survive on your own and I found that out the hard way. It’s very lonely experience being on the street. People walk past you like you were born and bred there, as if you’re just a fixture of the environment, like a grit box. I don’t think a lot of people realize how easy it is to find yourself in that situation. Until I had my art I was afraid of other people. It was only when I found a way to connect with them that I began to get over my fear, and now I know I’d be lost without them.'

Read Julian's story now

'When I left university in the early sixties, I thought I might try to become an actor, but then my partner Julian took me to some clubs that had drag artists performing, and so I started doing that instead. I made my own dresses which were very elaborate, often pink or purple, and I’d wear a huge wig of course, and I would dance and sing all the popular musical songs in various clubs in London. I liked good quality drag, it was all very artistic. There was such a magic about the sixties. I loved it, it was all very exciting. The drag shows were extremely popular, but you had to be careful as there was still a lot of prejudice back then. I would perform in gay venues of course but you couldn’t be too open about it as there was often police outside the nightclubs and many of the owners would have to go out after they shut in the evening and give them money to stay quiet.'

Read Terry's story now

'My whole life journey has been about trying to find out who I am and where I belong. I think that’s what everyone is looking for. To feel worthwhile, to have dignity and self-respect, but these simple things that everyone aspires towards become like a dream. I was local in Ilford for over twenty years but I never felt like a local. Never felt like part of a community. I never understood why I couldn’t connect with other people, but maybe it was because I didn’t have a home or family where I had the opportunity to connect. The world has become smaller in many ways but the walls within our hearts and souls have risen. We don’t understand why we separate ourselves from other people. It’s a kind of fear of being excluded, which actually makes us exclude others. Fear of the unknown is the greatest barrier to life. The only way we can address a barrier like homelessness is knowing the truth, and wanting to know it. Sharing experiences and stories helps us see how similar we are, then we can see there’s nothing to fear other than our own misperceptions.'

Read Neil's story now

'I walked out of my marriage after 21 years. My husband had an accident in the Navy and had to retire early. He was happy go lucky before that but I just don’t think he could accept his injury. He was only in his forties and his personality changed completely. He couldn’t cope with being home all the time and dealing with family life after spending months away at sea. If I didn’t do what he wanted he was physically abusive and tried to control everything I did. I used to hide what was going from the kids. My mum was the only one who knew all about it. I’ve only got one cousin who I speak with occasionally, but apart from that I’ve got no one else. I reported him to the police a few times but they always believed him. I stayed until the children were older but then one day last year I’d just had enough and I walked out. It wasn’t planned. I didn’t know where to go. All my clothes are still there.'

Read Lorna's story now

Les

'I was born in a mental hospital. My mum had a lot of mental health problems and my dad would hit all of us. He even hit the dog. It was ok when he wasn’t there but when he’d get back from work I was scared. Everytime my mum tried to get away he would find her and bring her back, and then we’d get beaten up because we tried to leave. We called the police but he would lie to them and they always believed him over us.'

Read Les's story now

'I joined the navy in 1973 at 15 years old. We had a year's training first, and that’s where I met my best mate Gary. We joined the HMS Ganges in Ipswich together. I was a radio operator and he was in ordinance, guarding the missiles. We went all over the world. Singapore, India, America, The Middle East, The Mediterranean. We delivered arms and supplied gun support during the civil war in Lebanon. We even guarded the Royal Yacht all around the Caribbean. It was stressful at times but we loved the sea life. After one seagoing mission, we were assigned to remove the missiles from the ship before docking in Chatham. My friend was operating a huge hydraulic hoist to move them, but one of the petty officers set the machine motion without warning us. I managed to get out the way just in time and grabbed him by the hand but he was too slow and it crushed him to death in front of me.'

Read Mark's story now

'Lloyd is lovely. I love her to bits. I look forward to seeing her every year. I was nineteen when I first came to Crisis. I couldn’t go home to my family and I was just roaming the streets with nowhere else to go. It was terrible. I was sleeping rough for fifteen years in total, but Crisis helped me get into a shelter and I’ve been coming here every Christmas for the last twenty-eight years now. I had a stroke when I was thirty and I can’t walk anymore, but I still like to come every year. I love the singing and the karaoke and all the nice people like Lloyd. I don’t have any family with me, so if I didn’t have Crisis I’d just be on my own.'

Read Vicki & Lloyd's story now

'I was the Amateur Boxing Association Welterweight Champion when I was younger. I started when I was nine years old as a junior and became the London Schoolboy’s Champion before going on to win the senior title when I was nineteen. I had 225 fights in total. I won 215, only lost 9, drew 1, and I was never knocked out in the ring. A lot of my opponents from back then went on to turn professional and had good careers. Now they’ve got houses and cars and I’ve been on the streets for nearly thirty years. I’ve been in and out of hostels a lot but mainly I just sleep on the street. Christmas Eve I slept in a phone box.'

Read Danny's story now

'This is a phenomenal Christmas. It’s my first real Christmas in recovery, and it feels incredible. When I was on the streets the only thing I ever thought about at Christmas was that by next year I might have sorted myself out. Now I’m here as a volunteer rather than a guest, and it’s amazing to speak with the other volunteers who knew me in the past and for them to see how well I’ve done. I remember a couple of Christmases ago one of them said they could see in my eyes there was still hope and desire there. I thought my life was all over, but when they said that to me I felt a little self-belief come back.'

Read Preston's story now

'Christmas is so much nicer when you’re with someone. We can have Christmas dinner together and get some sleep in the warm. This year we’re spending at Crisis, and then we’re planning to move onto somewhere outside London where we’re not known at all. I’m an experienced bricklayer so as soon as we’re safe somewhere I want to get back to work and start a normal life again together.'

Read Sandra & Darren's story now

'Christmas brings out the best and the worst in people. People can be very happy and generous, but they can also be very nasty and aggressive. Often they see other people being generous and that makes them switch. They’re usually drunk and then they started abusing you, calling you a crack head, a scammer, go back to your house and get in your Ferrari. I’d never had to defend myself until recently but I had four fights in one week just with drunk members of the public. There are definitely more nice people than nasty though. People bring wrapped presents and take the time to talk to you more at this time of year. When people get to know you they become much more compassionate. Maybe for every ten nice people you only get one nasty one. You just remember the nasty ones more sometimes which is sad.'

Read Pete & Dexter's story now

'When I started speaking with Darren I realised that even though our lives have gone down different paths we were really similar people. We’re only seven months apart in age. We’ve got the same humour and we like the same things. It’s just very uncanny. When I got divorced I had one night when I slept in my car, and I know it doesn’t equate to this, but I can try to relate. You can’t help but think, ‘There but for the grace of God go I’.'

Read Darren & Colin's story now

'Christmas can be a really hard time of the year. It’s freezing cold and some people think you’re here for the fun of it. When my nan was alive she had a lovely old Victorian house in London and we’d all have a nice dinner then sit together round the TV and the fireplace. She was like a mum to me but she died of bone cancer and we lost the house to pay for her care. After that I went down a slippery slope. My girlfriend left me, I lost my job and I ended up here. I used to get upset about it a lot but you get to a point where you just want to forget everything.'

Read Wesley's story now

'I was fostered when I was six. I remember a lot of it. I’ve tried to forget, but I can’t. One day my mum’s boyfriend shook my baby sister so hard that she hit her head on the corner of a street sign and died. My mum left Manchester after that to move to Plymouth with a new boyfriend, but when we got here social services deemed her unfit to look after us and my two sisters, my brother, and myself were taken into care. I was separated from the others and spent a year with people who bullied me all the time and used me like a house slave. They would just sit down, watch TV and make me do all the housework. Their son used to beat me up as well. He was quite a lot older and would do it while we were out of the house and then blame it on other people.'

Read Reece's story now

'I was only on Spice for a couple of years. I never touched anything before then. I was doing really well. I was earning really good money as a chef. I did my NVQ level three and I was working at quite a famous restaurant as part of my second year apprenticeship but it became really stressful. I would start at six in the morning and not finish until 1am, six or seven days a week. It was really hard work and I just started hanging out with the wrong couple to get through it. I got addicted very quickly. I couldn’t do my work properly and lost my job, and then I ended up in jail for burglary to fund the habit.'

Read Jimmy's story now

'My mum was a prostitute and both my parents were heroin users. My mum had me when she was sixteen and then she had three more children by the time she was 23. I think it got a bit much for them both in the end because they ended up abandoning all four of us. One day my dad came home, took the money that was meant for the babysitter, beat up my mum, sent her back to work on the street, and then went out to buy more heroin. Neither of them ever came back. I was seven at the time, my two sisters were 3 and 5, and my brother was just eight-months old. We were alone for two months before anyone found us. After that, we were all taken into care.'

Read Tracey's story now

'I first started long distance walking after my wife Sarah died in a car crash. We’d been together since we were at school, nearly twenty years. I didn’t want to know anyone or anything after that. I stopped working and was living in my tent. Walking helped me deal with the pain. I used to walk for miles before realising how far I’d gone and then I’d have to get a bus back again. I would walk from one hill to another and just keeping going to see what was next. I found it so therapeutic. After a while I started doing sponsored walks for charity too. From the Outer Hebrides to Penzance, I don't think there's a part of the UK I haven't walked to now. I’ve done walks for the RNLI, St John’s Ambulance and Guide Dogs for the Blind, but the NSPCC was the biggest one I’d done until recently. That was 1200 miles from Dusseldorf back to the UK, but I always felt like I could go further.'

Read Alan's story now

'Occasionally we would manage to rent a private room but the last place we stayed in was so depressing and dangerous I had to get out. We paid £90 a week each but we had no hot water and no heating. It would rain indoors and there was black mould everywhere. It was only a four-bedroom house but the landlord was renting it out to as many as thirteen other people. He did give us a contract but I don’t think he had any idea of his obligations as a professional landlord. He was just scamming people really. I never saw the council check the safety of the property ever. I’ve since discovered that the onus was on me as a tenant to report him to the police, a bit like in a domestic violence case, but he was very aggressive and I knew he wouldn’t have stood for that. I was in a house full of quite hostile men and he’d already started on me a few times. Being in that environment made my depression and drub-use so much worse. I was scared to leave but I needed to get clean, and rehab was also a way of not getting my head kicked in by my landlord for grassing him up to the council.'

Read Alana's story now

'I was a BBC cameraman for over thirty years. I started off as an electrician before my cousin, Errol Brown, the singer with Hot Chocolate suggested I should learn how to do lighting by going on tour with them as a lighting technician. After that I went to America and worked at Universal Studios for a while before getting a job for the BBC as a lighting gaffer. From there I went onto being a technical operator for news and current affairs learning everything from remote cameras to sound engineering. I did film work for Sky, London Weekend Television and various other production companies. I even worked at Pinewood studios for a while. Just before I retired though I separated from my wife and then my brother died, and I fell into a depression. It was a situation that I just wasn’t used to. I didn’t know how to handle it, and so after all that, having three houses, plenty of money and a grand career I ended up on the streets for a couple of weeks. I’m living proof that it can happen to anyone but I managed to drag myself out of it.'

Read Brian's story now

Tom

'I can’t blame everything on my parents but I know my upbringing had something to do with my drinking. Three of my brothers have grown up to have the same problem. My twin brother has always been on and off the streets. Drink changes people. It wrecks relationships. I lost my marriage, my job and my children but I’m trying to make amends now. I’m off the street. I’m getting treatment and in a hostel. This year will be my first Christmas inside for a long time. It’s not like family but I’m looking forward to it.'

Read Tom's story now

'I was living in Europe working in the music industry for fifteen years but I decided to train properly in music production so I went back to university at the age of 40 to get a degree. I completed the first year ok but then I had a stroke and couldn’t keep up. I’d left school at fifteen so I was finding it difficult anyway but after I became ill it became too hard and I had to drop out. One day everything was looking positive then it all went wrong. I used to be a fit strong man and now I struggle walking for fifteen minutes.'

Read Tony's story now

Lee

'My mum was my rock and my soul mate. I always turned to her when I had problems. She always knew what to say and how to make me feel better. My parents split a longtime ago and my dad is more into gambling than his own family. My mum was the only one I was really close to. She didn’t tell me for two years after she found out she had cancer because she didn’t want to worry me. It took another two years before she died. They let her home for Christmas because they said she wouldn’t make it past then but she did. Shortly after that she went back into hospital and passed away.'

Read Lee's story now

'I like the fact that people can tell I’m a bit more bright eyed and bushy tailed that many people on the street. I feel sorry for other people out here because I know how hard it is to have that habit and still try and make plans for the future. I’m blessed that I haven’t got that hold of me anymore. So if I make more money than I need for me and Tank to eat then I’ll give what’s left to those who need it more because I understand the necessity of it for them. It’s not always a choice. It’s just not as simple as that. It’s like medication. When it gets hold of you, you can’t function without it. It’s horrible.'

Read Dave's story now

Jo

'I came to England from Poland nine years ago after my mother died. First I went to Great Yarmouth and was selling fish and chips, but the man gave me no contract and paid me just £3 per hour so I left and came to London.'

Read Jo's story now

'I always thought homelessness was just rough sleeping. I’m lucky that I didn’t have to sleep on the streets, but when I asked a homeless charity for help they told me that it’s people in unsuitable and temporary accommodation too. I didn’t know there was any help out there when I was in that situation. I had no idea I was entitled to any benefits or support. I thought it was just the way things were.'

Read Codi's story now

'My mum was a single mother and she was very strict. She never let me go out and dictated everything I did. Even the clothes I wore. I was never allowed to go to youth clubs or parties. I was an only child but I was never allowed a social life. I did everything she told me. I left home when I was twenty completely unprepared for the adult world. I didn’t really know what was acceptable and what wasn’t for younger people.'

Read Ann's story now

'The main problem is getting into shelters with a dog. There is one hostel that allows dogs but only two at a time, and whenever I’ve gone it’s always full. Charlie’s always been like a rock for me. It’s lonely out here on your own and having Charlie makes a real difference. He brings a smile to my face. He doesn’t judge me. I couldn’t ever bring myself to let him go.'

Read Paul & Charlie's story now

'I’ve been on the street for three weeks because the Job Centre sanctioned me for not turning up to a meeting I didn’t know about. I’d been living in a hostel for five months but my benefits weren't enough to pay the rent so I was already in debt. When the money stopped they just kicked me out.'

Read Dana's story now

'One day I just thought - enough. I was spending money just to cover up my thoughts, so I went to my doctor and told him I was afraid I was becoming an alcoholic. I was glad for that support. Sometimes if you help someone before they go downhill, like that young man I helped in the school, you can turn them around before it gets any worse. It’s never too late. I’ve not had a drink for nearly seven years now.'

Read Leroy's story now

'Eventually I registered as homeless with four councils in the Liverpool area. All in places that I had connections with, but there was only one council that would support me. All the others said that as a single homeless person I couldn’t be helped. They said you’ve got to stay in a hostel or live on the streets, but all the hostels were full. I couldn’t believe that I was in my own country and I couldn’t get anywhere to live. It’s got worse now. The rents are higher and the wages lower, so it’s no wonder that people are on the streets. I don’t think a lot of people know that and they should.'

Read Andy's story now

'I started getting depression after my daughter was born. I didn’t have much family around me and I felt isolated all the time. The stress became too much and I just couldn’t cope. Health workers came and gave me some support but none of my family really helped or understood. I couldn’t look after her properly, and I began to take everything out on my partner too.'

Read Sarah's story now

'I’m getting a bit old now and my teeth are falling out. I was sleeping in my tent one night and I put my fake tooth outside in a jar. Then I saw a magpie swoop down and steal it. It cost £150 that tooth. I saw it again the next day looking sheepish in a tree. I never did get it back.'

Read Rob's story now

'I’m generally very optimistic, but there are a lot of people who have lost hope. Society treats you differently when you’re homeless. Some people can see beyond that, but even they still need support. Some people can’t though, especially people who have been street homeless for a long time. The negative parts of their experience make such a strong impression on their life they can’t move on without help. Most people just need a house first, and then the other things can be worked out afterwards.'

Read Gerald's story now

'We all get lost sometimes, we all get confused, and that leaves us vulnerable. If there was a way that people could get help before they get stuck as homeless that would help. When I became homeless I could easily have gone down the wrong path of crime or addiction, but the sensible side of me always said that there was a better way of doing this.'

Read Ali's story now

"When I told the job centre they said that it was classed as voluntarily leaving my job, which meant that when I applied for the universal credit they sanctioned me for a whole year as punishment. They know my situation. I don't have mental issues, I don’t have any children, so as far as they’re concerned I can fend for myself."

Read Nathan's story now

"We got talking online, and then arranged to meet in Oxford where she lived. We sat in a café and talked for a long time. We held hands, and we realized that we were indeed father and daughter. She was 34 years old, and she told me that she’d been looking for me for years. I had no idea."

Read John's story now

Abi

"I’m going to train as a social worker because I want to work with young people that have been through what I’ve been through. I feel as someone that has been through it all l I could make an impact on these young people and show them that they’re not alone and someone out there does care."

Read Abi's story now

"I try to keep my mind positive otherwise I would go down the wrong path. I don’t really like being on my own all the time. I find it hard. I feel lonely all the time. The hostel I’m in now is alright but the kind of people in there I don’t really want to be with."

Read Gemma's story now

"I was married for 14 years. 2 kids. Then my wife woke up one morning and said she no longer loved me. I tried to fight and beg. I asked if she wanted to go to counseling but in the end I had to admit defeat."

Read Alex's story now

"If someone had told me that later on in life I would be homeless I would have swear blind - never. You can never expect it. It just happens."

Read Saville's story now

"There’s a myriad of different reasons for people being homeless but no one stops to ask. Everyone just automatically thinks, ‘They’re a junky, they’re an alco.’ I met so many people on the street that didn’t have a drink problem, didn’t have a drug problem. They were homeless through their circumstance but not everyone stops to think about that."

Read Stephen's story now

"I want to help and influence people through what I’ve done, what I’ve had to suffer with in my life, the journeys I’ve been on, and I’m sure loads of people out there have been on those journeys, and they just want a bit of confirmation that they’re not alone and things will get better."

Read Hazel's story now

"I always loved music since I was really young. I started writing lyrics when I was thirteen years old, I’m twenty six now. I’ve been pushing it a lot this year. I’ve been going to more open mic events. Performing at bars and stuff like that, and pushing my music out and going to the studio."

Read Gammakid's story now

"I’m fortunate that I found a good housing association because there was not much housing being built back then, not in London anyway. I’ve been sporadically employed enough to keep a roof over my head ever since but my housing situation is still precarious. I’ve worked in theatre lighting and as a sign writer and painter. I’ve always worked - no rent arrears, no defaults. But if I was in private housing I’d be on the street. If you’ve got a home in London now – hold on to it.”

Read Hugo's story now

"I’ve been photographing reflections on water. You don’t know where reality starts and finishes if the reflection is that clear. Not until the water’s disturbed. And I think that’s like life as well. When you’re on drugs you’re not aware of where reality is, and it’s hard to differentiate between the two."

Read Gabriella's story now

'Everybody in the group has such a different experience that it really challenged me. It’s changed my perception of what homelessness is. It’s not just rough sleeping. It’s ordinary people who’ve fallen into extraordinary circumstances.'

Read Daniel's story now

“I joined an art therapy class and I completely fell in love with art. It completely changed my life. Some people would say it actually saved my life, and I think it did."

Read James's story now

"There wasn’t one big thing that was the moment I decided to drop out. It was just a steady slide downhill. At the end of my second year going into my third I just didn’t go back. I just knew I couldn’t do it anymore."

Read Emma's story now

"My son has a serious medical condition. He’s been in hospital several times and just recently it was for six months straight. I had to stay with him every day. I was living in Luton in private accommodation and I was also on housing benefit, but that didn’t cover the shortfall in the rent, so I got into arrears and I was told I was going to be evicted."

Read Florence's story now