Paul & Charlie's story.
“I rescued Charlie from some lads who were teaching him how to fight. I got camera evidence and took it to the police but they said they couldn’t do anything about it, so one day I just went there myself and offered them £25 for him. They said ok, and I’ve had him for nearly five years 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 bring myself to ever let him go. I did have him stay with a friend for a couple of weeks last winter but I missed him so much it made me depressed.
I’ve been on the street for a year and a half. Sometimes I get to stay with friends but mainly I stay in my tent behind the library. I’ve lived in Birmingham all my life and this year is the worst I’ve seen it for homelessness. People from all the surrounding towns seem to have come here.
I keep myself tucked away but the police still find you and move you on. They can arrest you and send you to court but usually they just keep you in a cell for twenty-four hours. They can fine you as well, and if you can’t pay the bailiffs come and take anything you have.
I was working as an electrician before this but it turned out the landlord of the house I was staying in wasn’t paying the mortgage, and one day we all got evicted. I’d already paid two months rent in advance and it really crippled me. I stayed on sofas and in B&Bs for a while but it just went downhill from there.
All my family have moved down to Devon but I’ve still got my daughter here. She’s twelve now and I still see her quite regularly but I split up with her mum when she was two. I’ve got a friend who keeps some nicer clothes for me and I smarten up when I go to see her.
I’m on a housing association list but as a single male they say they can’t help. I go to the library and try to bid on properties online but it’s a really slow process and you need at least £500 just for the deposit. One day I hope I’ll get a roof over my head for me, my daughter and Charlie.”
Paul & Charlie, Birmingham.
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