Documentary about London's homeless, in which filmmaker Penny Woolcock discovers that their problems run much deeper than the lack of food and a roof over their heads.
Browse content similar to On the Streets. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
This programme contains very strong language
This used to be called cardboard city number one. Embankment used to be called cardboard city number two.
One, two, three, four,
five, six, seven,
eight, nine, ten.
You died, baby, didn't you?
Jumped off the bridge age of 15.
She stood here and she jumped off the bridge.
12, 13, 14...
..15, 16, 17...
She was 19.
She had an axe through her head.
Her hands tied behind her back with feet in cement.
The police dragged her out.
She got killed.
They was homeless.
And she was homeless.
Home sweet home...
and you fucking spoilt it.
All them cafes and shops, waiters...
Where's my home?
Where's my home?!
Hello, you're gorgeous, aren't you?
Hang on, don't go away.
You're beautiful. There you go.
Oh, no, don't give her your money!
-No, there you are.
-No, no, no, don't.
No, no, don't. I find that offensive.
-I'm sorry I don't mean to offend you.
-No, that's offensive.
Now you look after your mummy, all right?
This very nice lady gave you that money. That's a lot of money.
-That's a pound there.
-Mummy will look after it for you.
All right? But don't get drunk on it, all right?
Well, that's very, very kind of you.
-That's all right. But I find that offensive.
-I am sorry.
-But she's gorgeous.
You look after your mum when you grow up.
I don't care about money.
All I care about is my home.
This wasn't here.
All that crap wasn't there.
Food and drinks. Fuck food and drinks - this is our home!
And you all took it away from us.
This is our home.
This is my home.
Have you tried to find out where a particle actually is?
It stops being a wave and becomes a particle in a different place.
-Yes, have I understood it correctly?
Well, these days I don't think...
one normally describes quantum mechanics
in the wave particle duality in the way that one used to.
I think things are treated as particles but they have...
their location is a probability dis...which is wave function.
Wave function - that's the expression I meant. The solution of
the Schrodinger equation is wave function. There we are!
It's all perfectly simple really, isn't it?
< Paul, what's your background?
Well, I did have a couple of degrees in mathematics but I concentrated most on pure.
There was some quantum mechanics in there, which I have forgotten mostly, and functional analysis.
I spend a lot of time in bookshops reading various subjects.
And then where do you sleep?
Well, um, nowhere, really.
So I tend to, um,
sleep on night buses.
At least it's dry, mostly, inside the night bus.
It's too early in the morning for that.
It's only five o'clock, Jean, and you're awake.
I've been awake off and on. I couldn't sleep properly last night...
And their fucking racket.
-Come on you lazy sod, what time do you call this?
Or should I say goodnight. Oh, it's gone again.
-It's gone again.
That's cos you've been lying on it, you dumbo!
Here they come. Watch out.
Oh, rise and shine, you old cunt!
-I said you haven't combed your hair.
I just fucking got up! Sorry!
I can do it myself.
I got the shakes this morning, cor!
-You had a good night then.
-Mmmmm, slept well, yeah, but had to get up cos I nearly wet the bed.
It numbs everything, really.
You know, you don't care after that, do you? You know.
You just drink and drink and drink.
I think I am going to be sick.
Yeah, so... Something's coming... Something's on its way.
I'm Jesus... Robin Hood. No, not Robin Hood, what's the other fella?
Steals from the rich and gives to the poor... Robin Hood.
It's not Robin Hood, it's Robin Tesco, innit.
If someone's hungry I'll get them summit.
-Whatever's on the shelves.
-Are you hungry?
-What do you want - meatballs?
-He's a very funny guy.
Yeah, but you know he's dying inside.
And as far as being Robin Hood, I don't really give a rat's ass if you steal...
-Yeah, but why are you here? What have you left behind?
-What have I left?
Everyone's got their own problems, everyone's got their own reason why they're here.
That person's got his own individual mind and he's on the streets for his individual reason.
-How does that help...?
-It doesn't matter what we think of him. Ken's on the street for his own purpose.
Everyone who's here is on the streets for their own individual purpose.
Doesn't matter what you say about people, people fucking...
-They are good to each other, you know what I mean?
-He's got a family. He's got kids. He shouldn't be here.
-Oh, well, that's the way it goes. What have you got?
-I don't know.
-Crinkly old bag... The environment is a hot issue and quite rightly so.
-Just eat the fucking thing.
Easy as that.
Sorry about that, Father.
Went to prison, come out and my wife says she doesn't want to be with me any more.
So that's why I'm back on the street. I done this in '85 to '95.
And now I'm back doing it again. It's just shit, really.
When I was drinking, I was being an idiot, do you know what I mean?
I was fighting everyone. But now I've stopped the drink, I'm all right now.
Trying to get rid of us all. We're an embarrassment. But they put us here in the first place.
I don't see them trying to get rid of the Polish and all that bollocks. Send them all home. Then we'd be OK.
Cos you're English, don't have a drug problem, don't have an alcohol problem. No help for you, my son.
No, you don't get nothing, bruv.
I'll lay you odds - out of 30 people that go in that night shelter, 28 are Eastern Europeans.
You might see two English people walking through that door.
I am Grizzly.
-I am from Polish.
-< Poland, yes.
Where do you live?
Park, my life, my God... Oh, shits...cock...
SPEAKS IN POLISH
This is your park.
# You're as cold as ice
# You're as cold as ice
# I'll sacrifice everything for you
# Cold as ice... #
# I love you, baby I love you, baby... #
# ..You're as cold as ice Sacrifice everything for you... #
< Ah! LAUGHTER
I am sleeping...
I am homeless.
I am sniper.
SPEAKS FOREIGN LANGUAGE
SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE
Arthur, why do you hurt yourself? Why did you do that?
Why did you put cigarettes...?
People that you had to kill.
And who told you to do that?
One, two, three, four, five, six...
This one happen... How am I going to say? Because you're going to think I am crazy.
But this one I cut my throat, I cut my throat.
Everyone can tell you I'm crazy sometimes.
Why? Why did you do that?
Because I'm crazy sometimes.
I don't know why, just my...
my mum now is dead.
Yeah, she's dead.
-My mum is dead also.
You have... How old are you?
-Ah, me, 59.
My mum have 46 and gone.
Eh, it's all right.
-Not for me it's all right.
I show you.
I show you.
Me know... Watch.
Oh, no! Ricky, no.
So then, Ricky, when you were 14
and you were on the street in Slovakia, yeah,
you joined a gang?
Like your tattoos.
Yeah, 14 years and I have these tattoos...
Is for because...
I don't know why I tell you... Me no like gypsy guy.
-You don't like gypsies.
-No like black people.
And have same on there...
I show you.
Two black people...have knife...
..and taken me...
-So you were sleeping in the night and what happened?
All there stitching.
You were sleeping and somebody came...
Yeah, and coming two mans, two black people and have knife
and touch me and take me everything.
My insurance, my home office, my documents, my money.
Now I don't have nothing.
I don't know why I tell you.
And the other tablets that I take are just to cure the voices in my head.
Wake up, you lazy bastard.
She died with cancer...
and then her husband,
his daughter's husband started to rape me.
From the age of 12.
They raped you when you were 12.
I'm used to getting raped, it doesn't bother me now.
I'm used to getting hurt.
It's like an addiction.
You can't live without it.
And then I ran away from home and then at the age of 15,
this guy asked me to go home with him.
Cos I said no, he had a knife at my throat,
then he chucked me over the bridge wall, ended up on the railway lines,
raped me and the next thing I know I was in Hammersmith Hospital.
Charing Cross, uh, Hammersmith.
Then I spent two years in Blackpool and I got raped down there.
Then I came back here and I got raped down here.
See, so I'm used to it.
I'm used to getting raped.
Doesn't bother me now.
That's my kind of life.
I get this feeling I'm being followed.
If I feel like it's going to be damp during the night,
I quite often sleep under the bridge at Waterloo.
Which is quite a nice wide bridge.
Sometimes if it's really chilly, I sleep up by the Buddha Bar.
Which is quite nice because then I... By the Buddha Bar.
I get to listen to music and if it's really chilly,
their central heating system keeps it just a little bit warmer.
Thank you very much. Thank you, thank you.
'I've been given the opportunity to stop a lot of waste from occurring
'and, at the same time, help some people.
'And every day we, as a race, we throw away so much food.'
And food is life, so to throw away life, I think, is a criminal act.
The majority of the people that come to pick up sandwiches
are obviously just...
There are some people that are just...
Noodles and cashew?
-You got two.
-I can't give it back, can I?
-See you soon.
-Yeah, thanks a lot, friend.
-Is that enough. Will that get you through?
Are you sure? If not, I will be along in the Strand in a bit.
-Life is one and singular As is the ever-constant all
To break or damage any bit Will be the way I fall.
I must learn to share with I and it's ego I must drop
Or peace will never rule on earth And wars will never stop.
-Do you have crayfish?
We make the future, I and I That ego tries to take
Stealing and deceiving
What looks like give is just a fake...
-Thank you very much.
-It's a pleasure.
My life is about trying to make that world a more beautiful place.
Living for the love of life.
I don't earn money. I don't claim.
I don't have any income.
But every now and then someone will give me some pennies
for some tobacco or I find a fiver blowing down the street.
The only bit of me that's actually me
that I can claim ownership of is consciousness
within this physical body,
and the consciousness within the physical body has no physical space.
It doesn't physically...
Doesn't physically exist.
Why haven't they put you into, um...
I've tried, I've tried, I've tried every angle known to man.
I cannot get a roof over my fucking head. No local connection.
I was in Brighton. Brighton fucking sent me to London
and now London want to send me to Timbuk-fucking-tu.
Know what I mean? Hang on a minute.
I'm talking to these people, right?
So, where the fuck do I go then?
Where is my connection?
I ain't fucking got one. I've buried every cunt.
Everyone's dead. Do you know what I mean?
They're all fucking brown bread. The lot of them.
Fuck you. No.
The deepest corner of the deepest, darkest night
There's a little fella that blinks With his eyes wide open...
No, what is it?
In the darkest, darkest corner In the darkest, darkest nightmare...
In the darkest, darkest corner In the darkest, darkest nightmare...
-When you toss and turn...
-When you toss and turn...
-Your eyes blink when they're shut...
-Your eyes blink when they're shut...
I'm the little cunt in the corner watching.
He's the little cunt in the corner that's watching you.
Nature, it is.
This is when it begins...
This is when it gets hard work.
Beat up, kicked up, spat on,
pissed on, set on fire.
This is when it begins.
This is the weary part of time.
And so how much do you get on benefits?
I think it is just a bit over £60.
And you pay for your ticket on the bus, don't you?
Oh, yes, I've got an Oyster card somewhere.
I hope I've got an Oyster card somewhere.
I have an oyster card!
I don't want to sort of give up, throw myself down on the ground.
One little bit of self respect I can hang on to.
Possibly at an enormous cost.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Green Park, Constitution Hill.
Hyde Park Corner station.
To Putney Heath.
I'd fallen on hard times and of course Christmas was coming
and I moved into an emergency winter shelter.
That...was very awful, too.
In the first place, they allowed dogs which means that the...
It was a sort of office building.
And they just put beds in office rooms.
But they allowed people with dogs in and that meant there was dog shit
all over the corridors and staircases.
And then you had to share a room and my roommate,
who was a very long-established tramp,
just pissed on the floor in the middle of the night.
I allowed one night as an aberration, but the second night he pissed on the floor it was too much.
I couldn't stay for the third.
So that was how I ended up sleeping out in the snow.
Welcome to the Strand, the loony bin.
We just had a really nice fight
but it got a bit gruesome when someone had their face cut up.
-And you've had a drink.
-I haven't had one drop.
I don't drink, I'm sober as a judge.
So the hand out came early tonight?
No, we went to the shop round the corner.
-They gave them to you?
-No, we got them out the bin.
Hey, this guy's got a prawn cocktail.
He's got two prawn cocktails.
I mean, I never got a prawn cocktail.
He dropped them off around the corner about half an hour ago.
I mean, how much does that cost, about £6.50?
-Do you eat quite well on the streets?
Very well. Food is the least of our problems.
My computer has been hacked.
They took files out and put files in.
Their intention was to put blood diamonds in my suitcases.
I flew to Vancouver without my suitcases,
just the clothes on my back.
For that reason. When I got to Vancouver the guy says, customs,
"Where are your suitcases?" I said, "I didn't bring any,
"and you guys are waiting for me, right?
"I'm supposed to have diamonds. Did you have an anonymous report?"
They managed to leave enough debt with the company in Brazil
It's going to kick off tonight.
-You stay one end and...
-I'm not scared of nobody.
Do you think it's about food?
Well, of course it is. It's about food and tobacco.
Unfortunately, people haven't learned yet now to love each other.
Yeah, and we're all stupid but, you know, if there's not enough food
to go around, what do we do?
You know? I like the way you act so smart when you were kicking off the other day...
All right, just calm down, come on.
When you were kicking off and wanted to kill everybody.
All right, come this way.
You didn't get the whole story there without being
in the street with these orangutans bouncing around.
It's, you heard what the guy said.
"Your story is huge, get money for it."
It's blood diamonds, it's... it's wickedness, it's evil.
-I want Tom Hanks to play my part in the film and I want Dan Brown to write the book.
Messy's no the worst. It is a mess. Pure mess.
What the matter, Jean? Have you sorted her out?
She's not a full shilling. Allow it, I allow it. You know.
HE RAPS: On TV, commercial artist So I keep spitting my face
I don't even want my face to be seen
I keep screaming this and it's my dream to get there
Anywhere but here.
All those that are fundamentalists and say...
-They should be shot.
-It's not right, is it?
He's throwing food on the floor.
Guns and nuclear bombs, yeah.
I could name so guns - LS50, AK47, shotgun, handgun, Desert Eagle,
-a machine gun, .22 rifle...
-Are you filming?
What has happened? Why do you look so smart?
I've got off the street, I'm in a hostel now.
Just come down to see friends and that and...
I mean, I'm in full-time work now so...
Where do you work, Ken?
I'm at Queens Hotel doing kitchen portering.
And let's see your watch and your lovely...
There it's upside down but...
You look like quite the man there.
Yeah, he's a high flyer now.
Ken, yeah, he is - look at him.
Hey, you're welcome to me old bed.
I'm getting fucked off with picking up rubbish.
Everybody explain to everybody else in every language that there is,
don't leave any rubbish or I won't give you any food
to leave rubbish with.
Well, explain it to everybody.
Is there anybody... Does everybody understand?
Raise your hand if you understand what I just said.
-We'll give it a bash.
-Cheese and pickle?
-Ham & Cheese.
Brie and Tomato.
Understand that I'll do it, I'm going through it and I'll keep going until there's nothing left...
Scottish roast beef and horseradish.
Ham and cheese...
I'm not standing up, just tell him to leave me alone.
No. I'm not standing up.
Bill, behave yourself.
Bill, Bill, you're making it worse.
Oh, Christ. I told him, I told him. I told him.
To them, that's one off the street.
This is what the police was waiting for.
And they're all playing right into their bloody well hands.
All the bloody time.
It's like you got two societies. You got the normal human society
and then you got the sub-human society
and when you're on the street, it's different because people will just ignore you.
But then London... London is, erm... It's a selfish place.
I have a friend who's been living in Parliament Square for the last five years.
I'm tent-sitting this week.
She's set me up with all the home comforts.
We can have a campaign, we can have a campaign which is targeted by this government,
which really stands up for trying to save real people's lives.
We can have hypocrites that deal in drugs that can walk away
from their campaign whenever they feel like it.
And they don't mind state violence being used on people.
We can all have a jolly good smile. We cannot look at them in the eye...
I'm afraid I talk to policemen the same way as I talk to you,
the same way as I talk to any other friend.
Which is hopefully to benefit everything.
The man's an imposter.
He's no more a peace... peace campaigner than Mr Tony Blair.
He works for the police.
He's a collaborator. This is all a front.
He just comes along here and uses it as a crash pad.
And he peddles drugs, and the police give him the drugs
and they're very happy with him.
And he's a great friend of Inspector BLEEP,
one of the nasty ones who helped put me on crutches. It's nice, isn't it?
We're peace... My names Brian Hoar, you might have heard of me.
We're peace campaigners. We've been here for eight years.
That corrupt government uses the police to try to destroy us.
They've dragged that lady off 33 times.
33 times. No law.
Just drag her off, violently.
This one here, he wants to be great friends with the one Inspector BLEEP
who dragged her off, who dragged me off.
It's a disgrace.
Shame on you.
Unfortunately, it's difficult to make friends with people that don't want to make friends.
And if we see this world as split into friends and enemies
we're stuck in this problem where we create enemies.
And if we see, actually - life and death.
Then if you're on the side of life,
you're on the same side.
And we've got to try and all look at it that way.
But it's sometimes a bit difficult with neighbours.
ANNOUNCEMENT: 156 to Vauxhall.
N38 to Walthamstow Central.
ANNOUNCEMENT: This bus terminates here.
Please take all your belongings with you.
PEOPLE CHAT IN BACKGROUND
Wakey, wakey. Rise and shine.
So, Ricky, sometimes you're looking for things.
-Yeah, and what do you do?
I'm looking for...
I'm looking for this, dog ends.
I have good, good...
Me have money, me have everything, yeah.
Where did you get the money?
Uh, because I move in yesterday in the...
..in the street and tell him,
tell over there, tell everybody, people, "Change, please."
-And have money.
This is my park.
It's your park?
Yeah. Every day, every time.
Coming every day.
People looking for me. What are you doing all the day?
Quiet sleep, you know, our home.
Because it's not our home.
-What is that?
-This is for...
That's very nice. Did you buy it?
-Where did you get that?
-In the skip.
-You found it in the skip?
-Yeah, in the skip.
-It's very nice.
-It's very nice.
Just waiting, waiting,
I don't know...
doing over there in the fucking...no, fucking...
-This is my friend.
-You are his friend from Warsaw?
Yeah, yeah we meet from Warsaw and together come to UK.
What was his work when you were in Warsaw?
He say he very like you.
He very like you, like friends.
Before, Grizzly said that he was a sniper.
-He said the other time we were filming, he said he was a sniper.
HE TALKS OWN LANGUAGE
He say yes.
You know how sniper he can be? I show you.
This is a sniper.
HE LAUGHS Sniper!
Is a sniper?!
GRIZZLY TALKS OWN LANGUAGE
In army, my friend...service in a commando.
In commando. Only be a cook.
Oh, he was a cook.
What happened on your arm?
Here. What happened to you?
You want your mum to come and get you?
What happened to you there?
You've got a flat now.
Yeah, with no electric.
Moved in there last night, ain't got no key meter.
And when I moved in there, there was no furniture in there.
The furniture's in there now but there's still no electric.
There's no key meter. It's £61 for an emergency.
I phoned the landlord up this morning who said he'll try and do something today.
But whether he does or not is another thing.
Most of the things I've done myself,
I got myself off the alcohol do you know what I mean?
I put myself into counselling, do you know what I mean?
Just so to calm myself down as I suffer from anger management a lot.
Yeah, the wife wants to come over at the weekend.
-Hello, missus. In the bin, please.
Oh, here you are, I'll give you something to read.
-It's a hostel license agreement.
All the rules and regulations.
It's like a fucking prison, I might as well go back there.
There we are.
-Ah, going to sit down then?
-That was very dramatic.
I've been in all the hostels you can think of in London.
I can never settle in a hostel.
I can't even settle in my own flat never mind a fucking hostel.
Have you had a flat?
Only in Blackpool.
-your partner, right?
She done me over big time.
Fucking Liverpool bastard.
I was back in Blackpool infirmary.
It's this Scotch nurse, I remember her, this Scottish nurse says,
"Jean, why do you let her keep doing this to you?"
I said, "Cos I'm a punch bag.
"She enjoys hitting me."
There was one night I was nearly at death's door,
I had tubes up my nose, the heart machine on me.
-Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know.
I was like fucking...like a robot.
And I still didn't fetch no charges.
LAUGHING Oh, that's funny.
You can see the funny side of it.
No, you don't see the funny side of it, you don't.
You don't see the funny side of it.
Not being in hospital all the time. No way.
Oh, no. I don't want to cry.
Stay down till you get home.
Basically I just lost my job.
It was sort of a knock-on effect - losing your job, then...
couldn't find another one.
And lost my flat and everything else,
so decided to come to London and start again.
And what job did you do?
I was a website designer.
Meeting other homeless people, they give you good tips on
where's good to sleep, where you're not going to get moved on.
These are the guys I stay with.
..which is like a dormitory hostel.
And I was in there for about three days, but it was so mental in there
I wanted to come back out here.
Some hostels are just crazy.
I was more stressed in the hostel than I was out here.
Sleeping rough ain't actually the bad thing about it.
That's not what I found, not now I'm with this lot.
It don't, that's...that's not a chore.
It's the day times, finding something to do and...
-It's shutting everything out, isn't it?
-Yeah, that's it.
You seem to go from one queue to the next, that's all you do,
wait and wait and wait around, that's all you do.
If you're a single bloke and English, you don't get no help.
You'll find every homeless person on the street will say...
if they're English they'll say, "It's the fucking foreigners."
I love London but...
this has opened my eyes to how many
eastern Europeans there are in here.
I was working front of house in a hotel in Little Venice.
A posh hotel, five-star hotel.
What happened to your job?
Lost it. Lost it.
I'm homeless, aren't I? What's going to happen?
I got sent home once for bad hygiene. Sent me home.
Because I was dirty and smelly.
Fucking hell, I couldn't say I was living on the street, could I?
It's a five-star hotel.
"Yeah, I live on the street, sorry I ain't shaved and had a wash."
The more you get pissed, the more you don't want to work.
Why should we? What's the point?
There's no point at all.
I'll be here, I've got a feeling I'm going to be here in 20 years' time, on the street.
But with crutches...
..bad back, fucked hips.
Sleeping on a cold floor every day.
Getting pissed on every day.
But I'm English. Onwards and upwards.
Why are you drinking?
How does the drinking help you?
At the moment, this problem, this street,
is very cold,
very, very cold, this rain.
Why are you doing that?
For change, please. For change, this cup.
In the change, please.
And if you break it, it's better?
-Yeah, it's better.
I don't know why I tell you.
It's better because people feel sorry for you.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
-So, how are you doing?
-Yeah, all right, not too bad.
-Is this your neighbourhood?
-Not really. I hate this area.
So Andy, when we last interviewed you,
you'd got a job and a place and you were feeling pretty good.
So what happened?
Just worked half a day.
Do you know what I mean?
Basically what it was, it was my wedding anniversary the day I started.
Arranged everything to meet my wife... Straight down, yeah.
Arranged to meet my wife and then she fucking, excuse my language,
-screwed me over.
-So now I've been back on the street.
I've been arrested five times since I come out of prison in April.
And each time for the same thing?
-Are you lonely?
-Yeah, do you know what I mean?
The hardest thing with splitting up from my wife is taking rejection.
It's normally me splits up before they do. Do you know what I mean?
I'd rather hurt them before they hurt me.
-And she hurt me before I could get a chance.
They put me out here, I'm miles away from anybody.
I asked them not to put me out here, do you know what I mean?
And they just stuck me out here.
-And you're in Wood Green now, right?
And they think cos we lived on the street, they can just stick us anywhere, do you know what I mean?
Right, this is the bathroom.
It's a toilet and a shower in there.
It works out £693, or summat.
So basically, when you're in this room and you don't know anybody, you're just sitting here...
Sitting here drinking, smoking,
do you know what I mean?
What were you thinking when you put that on your head, though?
I thought I'd just pee my wife off, but it ain't really.
It's cutting your nose off to spite your face.
But I just went and done it.
Just sat here one day and just drunk and went, "Fuck it"
and duh, duh, duh. Done my hand, do you know what I mean?
I just thought it would be my way of getting back at her.
Every time I phone her, I threaten her and all that,
say I really want to kill her, I want to hurt her bad.
But I never would, you know? And the thing is, she knows that.
So you mainly do things to yourself, don't you?
Self harming. Do you know what I mean?
Cut all my face up before.
There was a point when I was in Trafalgar Square, I tried to cut
my throat with a piece of glass because I couldn't take it no more.
And do you know why you do that, Andy?
Don't know, no, not really.
It's just how I felt at the time, do you know what I mean?
I remember you saying that your dad used to hit you when you were little.
-Do you think it's maybe connected?
Well, I used to hurt myself before he even try to hit me, do you know what I mean?
So that's where it probably stemmed from.
-What did he used to do to you?
-Just used to punch me and stuff like that.
When he found out I used to steal, he used to grab my fist and try and punch it through the wall.
So, like, try and break my knuckles or whatever.
When I was young, I stole £50, I think I was eight or nine,
I was living in Charlton, I stole £50 and I wanted to leave home then.
I wanted to go to America with £50.
I was only young, I didn't know what to do.
And do you think the same thing happened to your dad when he was a kid?
I know my old man used to get beaten up by my grandfather, yeah.
Got hit by my grandfather.
Until everybody has one, keep quiet.
-Thai chicken? Noodles and cashew?
Lemon, chicken, black pepper on rye?
-I was on the streets for seven years.
-And where did you sleep?
I slept on the Strand here, in a doorway down there.
Erm, it was quite hard.
Very, very hard.
You can get stick off a lot of people.
You know, like, people can spit at you when they're walking past, they can be really horrible to you.
I've had people give me a kicking on the streets.
You know what I mean? Just for being homeless, so it can be quite hard.
-Did you have a difficult time as a child?
What happened to you?
I was abused.
And then it messes with your head.
Do you think you ever recover from anything like that?
Does it still plague you now?
Yes. It affects relationships and stuff.
And trust. I don't trust anyone.
Sometimes I go from St Pancras down to Bedford and back.
Takes about an hour, hour and a half.
All depends if you catch a slow train or a fast train.
I normally try and catch a slow train because the more time I spend on the train,
then sometimes it's more rest I can get, and the better it is for me in the morning.
What was your childhood like, Matthew?
Not very good.
I didn't really have a good one because I went into care from a very young age.
I didn't like it at all.
They treat you... some members of staff treat you like dirt.
I had one member of staff who used to literally just launch me from room to room and get away with it.
But you've just got to know what to do.
I put complaints in all the time.
If you don't learn quickly, then you will die.
This year just over 200 people have died on the streets.
Which is a lot of people to die.
I would come here quite a few times.
I normally just go into the train station and just sit in there for a little bit.
Leicester is the next train.
Nine minutes past one in the morning.
So where will you go now? To Leicester?
Because I don't know where Leicester is
and I wouldn't risk going somewhere where I don't know.
You see coming here, I know that there's a train going back.
So, from Leicester, I wouldn't know what's what.
And normally at this point, I normally just...
sit over there
and then sit against the radiator and fall asleep.
Sometimes me and my mate sometimes sit there,
or we sit here.
In that respect, it's not too bad.
And I show you where I sleep, yeah?
Over there, because it's hot.
Very good place because very hot. Very nice.
So, Jean, something happened to you a long time ago?
Not found it yet?
Where have you put it?
-Something happened to you a long time ago...
Baby, I forgot.
I've got no nuts for you, I forgot.
Sorry. Next time.
So after all this, what happened to you when you were 12, what has been the result of it?
It'll always stay with me until the day I die.
Why do you think I jump underneath vehicles?
Just so that one would fucking hit me.
When you get raped, you see the pictures what they do to you.
You hear the voices. They don't let you go.
When I am dead, they will leave me.
Because they've got what they want.
And these voices, where do they live?
They're inside you for the rest of your life until you kill yourself.
Gis a light.
It's either that or live with them for the rest of your life until you do die.
That's why I can't wait until I'm dead.
And what do they say to you?
If I knew she wanted me to talk about this...
To hurt people.
Hurt people who want to help me.
And what do they tell you to do to yourself?
They just tell me to do damage to myself.
If I do damage to myself, they leave me alone for a bit and then they start again.
At the moment, they're asleep.
But basically, they're the three men that did that to you when you were a little girl?
Not going to say hello? No?
Since I was 12, I've seen them.
I see them, I hear them talking to me.
And believe it or not, they're starting to wake up.
Ah, it was a good life.
That wasn't me, that was them saying it.
-They said that?
-What did they say to you?
-It was a great life, raping me.
I guess that's why I like getting raped.
Cos they enjoy it.
I just can't wait to get raped again.
Oh, don't say that, Jean.
I'm telling you.
The quicker the better.
If I get raped again, it keeps them lot happy.
Maybe I might feel something.
Until then, I don't feel nothing.
I mean, this is not my life.
This is their life.
The life that you're living now?
It's not my life, I haven't got a life.
My life's with them.
-Sounds crazy, doesn't it?
Oh, brother, I can't win.
Tea for the camera woman...
And what is this place?
Well, it's my new studio flat.
Moved in last Thursday.
Had to go through this...
whole process of getting depressed and the landlord to throw me out because
I failed to claim benefits and failed to pay rent.
And take a very long time to recover from the whole process.
And what do you hope now, I mean if... Do you feel that you're in
a position to look forward to a different kind of life?
It's, you know,
When I came to London and started work, it seemed
that I entered this male menopause, this Reginald Perrin situation.
Being frustrated by work.
Just right from the start, I could never cope.
I drink the Holsten's now, 5%, I'm down to 5%. That's not bad.
I mean, I'm, I reckon I'm doing a self-detox, know what I'm saying?
Know what I mean?
I could go to a clinic, complain to a doctor, I could do this and that,
you know, at the end of the day, you need a bit of backbone, you got to make a decision for yourself.
You're not in the doorway of Karen Millen any more.
No, do you know what, I'm not.
Let me introduce you, you open the front door, there's your little kitchen,
all your appliances, double bed, bay window,
and in here is your separate shower and hand basin and toilet.
All done, do you know what I mean? Fantastic.
I want to get my life back, do you know what I mean?
This is not a career move.
In a sleeping bag. Do you know what I'm saying?
Bit of fun, you know, during the summer you can sort of laugh it off, but...
weather's starting to turn now and I tell you, I done the snow in Brighton in January, and that was not funny.
-I'm telling you.
See you later.
See you soon.
Got a place, haven't we? Both ended up in the same building.
-But it's all good. I've got a job now as well.
-Started last week. Working in a bar.
Which is cool, and you just got one, ain't ya?
Yeah, good money.
£9 an hour.
-No, I'm not kidding.
Do I lie? I don't tell lies.
-He's going to take me out for Christmas dinner.
-Yeah, I am, yeah.
Here we are.
Not very tidy at the moment.
So, it's a room.
We're proof that it can be done.
Without being brash. And I don't mean any disrespect to anyone,
but it wasn't that difficult,
-and there is a lot of help out there.
-So are you back on the street, then?
So, Ken, how many times have you been in and out over the years?
In and out, all together...
About 25 year, all together.
-Yeah, on and off.
-On and off.
I tried settling in hostels, tried going back home
but I just, I just can't settle.
I need that sort of support from health workers
and, uh, social workers, really.
At least I've got you though, Uncle Ken. At least you're my uncle.
You know you've got good friends round you.
So, Ken, who is this?
It's me niece, Mystique.
I was searching throughout the whole of this country
just to find my baby uncle, you know.
He's the only family I got left.
-I was getting chucked down stairs, I was getting kicked...
By my ex boyfriend, and he loved beating me up, he was an alcoholic.
A terrible, terrible alcoholic.
I didn't know what to do.
I just thought, I can't stay here, I've got to go
up to my uncle and look after... and he's got to look after me.
So I've looked after him and everything.
We got to turn down here now, this is the way we got to go.
See this, and this is how cold it is.
I was in the Royal Engineers, King Fusiliers area, I was looking after the Queen all the time.
I was acting sergeant, and I was everything I could have been.
When I was young, I didn't know where my uncle was. I was in the army.
I needed my uncle home, and finally I got my uncle with me.
Ain't that right, Uncle Ken?
-So were you in care, as well, as a child?
I was in children's care.
I was in a children's home in Herefordshire.
And it was quite horrendous to be in children's care.
I've had a lot of bullying from them and all.
And you weren't in care when you were a child, were you, Ken?
-I was, yeah.
-You were in care?
I were in care since I were six month old.
That's one box... I'll have that space.
This is where we sleep.
We have no trouble at all. Uh, we keep ourselves to ourselves
and we'll clean all our mess up if there is any.
So Mystique's mum was homeless as well.
Yeah, yeah, till she got herself right.
She was only 13 when she was on the streets.
Just leave that for now, love.
Hang on, why is it called coconut if it's got no nuts? Uh!
I don't know...cos it looked like a nut when it were all done.
Hm. Are you happy to have him back?
Sometimes, yeah, do you know what I mean?
For the company, but sometimes it's stressful because
sometimes I wonder why...if I was too selfish by taking him back.
Because sometimes...this old place is too small for him, not really a garden, do you know what I mean.
It's unfair on him.
I've been stressed out the last week or so, smashed my phone up, and smashed up the cupboard on the door.
Do you know what I mean?
Tried to cut the tattoo out of my head as well.
With a razor blade.
Didn't do a good job because it's still there.
Does it make you feel better when you do that?
In some respects it does, yeah, but it just, it's like a, a memento just
to say like, well, you won't do that again, do you know what I mean.
But at least you've still got a roof over your head.
Yeah, but this roof is really stressing me out.
Being out here on my own again is just like I was saying, I just want to pack up and just go.
Just leave everything, just take my dog and my clothes and go again.
I'd rather go back to the street. I'm just stressing out here now.
-Engaged to me.
-Engaged to me.
Ow, my bone!
She's staying silent.
She's hidden it. She's being quiet.
Don't blame her.
-Jean, are you not supposed to kiss him now?
-I have to get up again now.
Oh, God. I need a drink.
MUSIC AND CHANTING
So your niece actually stole your money? Mystique?
Yeah, Mystique stole it.
I said, OK, you can stay with me till following day, we'll sort out a flat.
I had the money ready.
I thought, right, I'll put it away in my secret pocket in my sleeping bag.
Got up to go to the toilet, I didn't realise at the time. By the time I come back, she'd gone.
So I checked my sleeping bag and she'd took the money as well.
She has to fight her own battles now cos I'm not fighting them for her any more,
not after what she did to me.
I've only got another year to go.
-Until what happens?
-Well, I came to London and I said that what I want is I want to realise paradise.
-And if the race that I belong to hasn't got round to starting within three years of me doing
my utmost to do it as beautifully and peacefully as I can, then fuck 'em.
-I shall go out and do it by other means.
-What sort of means?
Well, if I haven't succeeded in, by peaceful means,
trying to bring about change such as getting people to willingly give up
fossil-fuel use, then I shall go out of my way to make sure that there's no fossil fuels for people to use.
And I don't mind if I get locked up because,
you know, the worst that can happen to me is I can get locked in jail.
Have a room, a bed and three meals a day.
-And that's the worst that can be thrown at me.
There's one lemon cheesecake,
Hands up who hasn't got anything, there's two chocolate fudge.
Has anybody else not got one?
Do us a favour.
When you sit down up the street and eat your food, pick your rubbish up and put it in the bin.
If I find a pile in the corner like I did yesterday,
I'll screw the rubbish into a ball and stick it up your rectum. Yeah?
Straight up. It goes in the bin, not on the street.
I bet he's been on the heat again.
But, Jean, you're still in the hostel, right?
But you're not sleeping out, Jean?
Off and on, yes.
I love this. What are you on about?
It's really cold!
Jean, what about your engagement?
She's asking that again.
I'm not getting involved in this.
It's all right, it's just voices, but go on.
So what's this about...
-you're not engaged any more. No ring.
-No. He had that back ages ago.
Have you seen John, Jean?
Good morning, Ken.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Filmmaker Penny Woolcock spent eight months in a parallel world, the world of the homeless, befriending people and finding out where they eat, sleep and socialise.
While making her film, Woolcock realised that the very real problems of homeless people have very little to do with the lack of a roof over their heads or a bed to sleep in. Their problems come from their past lives - and are less easy to remedy. Despite the efforts of different charities to move people into homes, the streets are often where they feel safe and what they know best.
In this moving documentary, Woolcock gives the seen-but-unheard residents of London's streets a voice.