As homelessness reaches a 20-year high for last year, James Gregory looks at the daily struggle people on the streets face and what the local community is doing to help as we start the new year.

For Alan Brown being abused and attacked on the street is part of his daily struggle – simply because he is homeless.

The 45-year-old from Aspley has been living on the streets for two Christmases now.

He is only one of a growing number in his position.

The former labourer said: “I have had cigarettes stubbed out on my face, food and drink and glass bottles thrown at me.

“This happens a lot late at night or in the early hours of the morning when people are going out drinking.”

Alan lost his job shortly before losing his home and has been sleeping rough ever since.

He normally beds-down in the intu Victoria Centre Car Park, but often gets moved on by the police or security guards in the early hours of the morning.

He spends his days with his dog, Tia, sitting in a doorway near to Primark and McDonalds on Clumber Street.

He added: “I was chucked out of my home last year after my partner and I split.

“A lot of people are generous and buy me food and spare some change for me.

“There are always houses and flats going up for students- I just wish that I had a place to live.”

For people like Alan, being homeless often means sleeping in doorways, alcoves or car parks in an attempt to get a safe and dry night.

He is not alone.

The number of people sleeping rough on Nottingham’s streets is at its worst point in 20 years.

Pictured are just some of the places where the less fortunate take shelter.

Nottingham General Cemetery is just one of the many sites the homeless take refuge. Photo by James Gregory.
Nottingham General Cemetery is just one of the many sites the homeless take refuge. Photo by James Gregory.

Kevin Wild from Aspley has been sleeping rough on Nottingham’s streets for the past 11 months.

The 45-year-old said: “I was chucked out of the house by my partner who left me for another man. We have four children together but I have not been able to gain any access to them. I haven’t seen them in nine months.

Kevin spent his 46th birthday on the streets and lost his job soon after he had been sleeping rough.

Kevin was formerly employed by an East Midlands contractor working on the electric pylons but the long hours required from him and the high risk nature of the job meant he was not able to maintain it.

He said: “I had a very good job which paid well but lost it soon after I was thrown out of my house. I was so tired sleeping on the streets that working high up on the pylons meant it would not be safe for me to stay in my job.”

Kevin said that his current living situation made him feel “degraded”, adding that “I’ve been spat at, booted in the face and verbally abused just because of the fact that I am homeless.

“I do not ask for money, I’m not greedy, I just move around the town and try to stay warm.”

Kevin sleeps near the intu Broadmarsh Centre – mostly in doorways.

He said: “If it were not for my children, I would not be here. I miss my children dearly”.

Disused alleyway where Nottingham's homeless sleep. Photo courtesy of Nottingham Post
Disused alleyway where Nottingham’s homeless sleep. Photo courtesy of Nottingham Post.

For every month of the last financial year, Framework, a Nottingham homeless charity, has recorded more homeless people on the streets of Nottingham. In April 2016, this number was at 18, but this number rose to as high as 38 by the end of the year.

Latest recordings of the number of people sleeping rough up until September 2016 (369) is almost as much as the whole of 2015(406).

The dramatic increase is even more striking compared to figures released in April 2011, where no homeless people were recorded and 10 years prior to this, where the number was in single figures.

Kevin and Alan are among the 25% of people known by Framework that are homeless due to their partner or family member asking them to leave home.

The problem is so bad it cannot be ignored.

Carole Osborne works for the Department of Work and Pensions on Upper Parliament Street and commutes to work by train.

The 56-year-old from West Bridgford, said: “I have definitely noticed more homeless people, even in the last month or so.

“There is always one person asking for money outside the train station and on my way to work there has definitely been more and more sleeping in the doorways of shops in Wheeler Gate on my way to work.

“I haven’t seen it like this in a long time. Even in the past three or four weeks there are more homeless people.”

Some businesses try to help where they can.

Business owner, Anthony Quinn, 29, said: “I can’t remember a day where we haven’t seen any homeless around this area.”

The owner of the Pudding Pantry added: “There is one man who has been living day in day out for the last two years by the Trinity Square Car Park entrance.

“My employees and I sometimes take hot drinks to them if we see them directly opposite the café.”

Framework helps where it can, and managed to raise £30,000 at the end of 2016 to help eradicate the problem.

Outreach manager Jason Marriott said: “We find people sleeping in all kinds of different locations – in doorways, in alleyways, in car parks in abandoned buildings, in sheds, in toilets, in caves… even in skips and bins.

“These locations are all very different, but they are united by the fact that they are simply not fit for human habitation. They are cold, they are damp, and they are potentially injurious to people’s physical and mental health.

“We do everything we can to help people away from these situations and towards the help and support they need.”

Portfolio Holder for Housing and Planning, Councillor Jane Urquhart, from Nottingham City Council, said: “We condemn all violence and would expect law enforcement colleagues to take action if there is evidence of an assault against a homeless person just as they would any member of the public.

For Alan and Kevin, help cannot come soon enough.