The Citizen, Tuesday, 17th January, 2006
Park life for homeless trio

Living under canvas has become a way of life for three homeless men who have been sleeping in a tent in Avenham Park since before Christmas.

They have spent nearly a month camping out in city centre parks after finding themselves homeless for a variety of personal reasons.

Living Under Canvas

Tony, 36, Lee, 35, and Adie, 34, have been sleeping rough for more than nine months in all in different parts of the area.

They saved the £32 a week they each receive in benefits to buy a tent, sleeping bags and warm clothing, and camp in a different spot every day to avoid detection and prevent any damage to the grass.

Adie ended up on the streets after being released from prison.

"I went to stay at a hotel but got in with the wrong crowd and ended up on drugs," said Adie, originally from Chorley.

"I then ended up back in prison for shoplifting and when I came out, I went to stay with my sister.

"But she's got a big family and I didn't want to be a burden. "It's tough but you just get on with it. I wouldn't want anyone to feel sorry for us."

They say they have tried staying at hostels, but disagreements with the wardens have seen them out in the cold again.

The lifestyle is taking its toll on Tony, a former builder from Wigan, who has tuberculosis.

He said: "My sleeping bag was wet last night and I thought I was going to die of hypothermia.

"I had an accident when I was working and had to have 56 pins in my arms. In this weather it can really hurt.

"Christmas was really hard too, not being able to see my two girls. It's these two guys that keep me going. We're like The Three Musketeers."

The campers say they have been amazed by the amount of support people have given.

Father-of-two Lee lived in Grange Avenue, Ribbleton, until his mum, Shirley, died 15 years ago.

He said: "One couple come and find us every day. They've brought us boots, mats to lie on and bring us soup and tea every evening."

“Christmas was really hard too, not being able to see my two girls. It’s these two guys that keep me going. We’re like The Three Musketeers.” Tony

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© The Citizen January 2006