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These are the stories of Liverpool's homeless and how they ended up on the streets; Their tragic stories will break your heart.

Byline: Rachael McMenemy

Walking around Liverpool it's hard to miss the stark reality ofhomelessnessin the city.

On corners, in doorways and under makeshift shelters are men and women desperately trying to stay alive and find hope in destitute conditions.

We went out and spoke to some of the people that most of us pass by everyday.

The people we spoke to had come from a variety of backgrounds and through tragic circumstances are now experiencing the harsh reality of life without a home.

Dean has been homeless for two months after a family split left him with nowhere to go.

He told theECHO:"I moved here with my mum, I'm from here but lived in America and moved back here with my mum and her new husband. But we don't get on, he told her that she had to choose between me or him and she chose him.

"I don't know anyone."

Dean has been attacked repeatedly while on the streets but he says the worst incident involved a man repeatedly kicking him in the face leaving him with a swollen and bloodied face.

He said: "The other day I was lying in a doorway at John Lewis and had a cup with [pounds sterling]2-3 in it, someone who isn't homeless was trying to steal my money, I woke up, he kicked me in the face."

The kindness of strangers is something Dean relies on to make it through each day and he feels lucky that some generous people buy him food in the mornings and at night.

He said: "I only get help from people I ask for change. People buy me food in the morning and at night. More people are nice but you also get people telling you to f*** off, things like that."

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For Dean, the hardest thing about being homeless is the isolation.

He said: "It's not being able to see anyone, not having anyone there to talk to or understand you. "

Dean says he is worried about trying to reconnect with his mother, who lives a few miles away in Mossley Hill, because he doesn't want her to be alone.

He said: "It's difficult obviously, I want to reconnect but she's married to someone I don't get along with, so there's a barrier. If I force my way back into the situation, if he leaves her... I don't want her to be alone."

Another struggle for Dean is watchingfake beggars. He says it's maddening and only makes the stigma about homeless people worse.

He said: "There's a lot in town who sit near Primark. One, she puts something on her stomach to make her look pregnant, I've seen her taking it off, every time I see her now I say out loud ' you're not homeless'.

"It makes me mad seeing those people , they get brand new clothes. It's like they team up."

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Anthony said he became homeless on New Years Day this year after his marriage fell apart.

Devastated, he said he left the house and when he returned the plasterer claims his wife had sold all his tools.

He told theECHO: "She sold my tools and since then I've been staying at Sandhills Train Station."

Anthony managed to scrape together enough money for a tent but says nothing is safe on the streets and he has to stash it to stop thieves.

"I've had to stash my tent, I've had to buy about six now. When kids find it they take it."

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The worst thing to happen to him was a "battering" from a group of teenagers who forced their way into his tent as he slept.

Anthony said: "Seven kids, they came into the tent and basically just battered me."

The attacks and isolation have also been making Anthony's depression worse, he says.

An ex soldier with the Royal Engineers Stephen says he fell from a ladder while working as a painter and decorator and broke his back.

After getting injured Stephen was forced to take six months off work to recover and was plunged into debt.

Unable to pay his rent, he built up [pounds sterling]1,800 in arrears and had to leave his home.

He said: "I lost my job, lost my house and was [pounds sterling]1,800 in rent arrears, that's what lead me to be here.

"I broke my L1 and L2 vertebrae in my back and had two compound fractures in my heels. I came off a ladder at work, painting and decorating. I was self-employed, I lived with my girlfriend, we'd been together for 11 years. We both worked, then I was at home all the time, I was bed-ridden, she had to look after me and then she moved back home. I've been homeless nine months. It's soul destroying, soul destroying, no other way to describe it."

Helping the homeless

Stephen also has nothing but praise for the people who take time to speak to him on the street.

He said: "People are actually brilliant to me, the people of Liverpool are brilliant, you get the odd bunch of people, you get the odd idiot but that's on a Friday or Saturday night."

After her husband died four years ago Nicola had a breakdown and spent a month in hospital, by the time she was released her landlord had kicked her out.

She told the ECHO: "My husband died, I was with him 18 years and had a break down because I was grieving."

Thinking she would go home and rebuild her life Nicola returned to her home only to find she had been kicked out and all he possessions were gone.

Nicola said: "I only knew when I went back to the house. I was upset obviously, I'd lost everything, it was a lovely three-bedroom house in Widnes."

Nicola had nowhere to go and without a permanent address has struggled to get work or get benefits to help her.

"With no address you can't get benefits, I've had no money for two years."

Being robbed is a regular occurrence and she feels like it makes her look invisible when it happens in broad daylihgt.

She said: "I was robbed just on Monday, in the day time, while I was asleep. They went in my pocket, trying to pull stuff out and got [pounds sterling]20. No one did anything, it was in broad daylight and no-one did anything."

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Nicola said: "People have died and been dead on the pavement, that's how invisible we are. There was a guy who died in the summer, no-one knew."

She added: "I've been in hospital with COPD, that's a terminal illness, they'll let you die in a doorway but you can't get any help. This country is sick. People are dying and no-one gives a flying f***."

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Thomas has been homeless on and off since he was 20 and has been back on the streets for the last six months after his landlord decided to sell up.

The landlord cut short the 21 day notice period unexpectedly, leaving Thomas with nowhere else to go but back on the street.

He said: "I got a 21 day notice but came back after a week and was asked to leave. I phoned police but they said nothing they can do because it's a civil matter."

Violent assaults are a common theme and Thomas told the ECHO about how he's been kicked in the face while he slept.

He said: "People make assumptions about being on drugs and alcohol which is really frustrating."

Thomas, an ex alcohol and drug user, says the stigma surrounding homeless people is a constant battle.


Credit: Liverpool Echo

Dean is 25 and homeless after a family split

Credit: Liverpool Echo

Anthony will have been homeless for a year on New Years Eve

Credit: Liverpool Echo

Stephen broke his back leaving him unable to work with mounting debts.

Credit: Liverpool Echo

Nicola has been abused and robbed while homeless
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Publication:Crosby Herald (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 27, 2018
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