Homelessness

Christmas on the streets of London
WORLD
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Characters team Dec 26. 2017
by Characters team
Source: Reuters
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Outside London's Piccadilly theatre where tickets cost up to 110 pounds and a banner advertising the musical "Annie" reads "It's a hard knock life", Bryan and Kevin sleep in small tents on the street.
They are among almost 1,000 people who sleep rough in the British capital, according to official figures, while more than 4,000 are on the streets across the country every night.
 
 

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Bryan, 51, who last year nearly died from pneumonia, became homeless after personal problems led him to drink and drugs.
"It's worse than it used to be right now, but I think it's down to a lot of things," he says. "The way people are now - everything is going up and costing more and then the other stuff, services and care, humanity, it's going down."

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"All you really want is a gaff (place) of your own," says Jimmy, who beds down in a subway near Waterloo Station.
"People come from out of town into the city at Christmas - you make more money - so it's harder for us who are here all the time," said Jimmy, 51, who originally hails from Glasgow in Scotland.
 

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There is both a human and financial cost to the problem. The average age of death of someone who is rough-sleeping is 47 and people living on the street are 17 times more likely to be the victims of violence than those in settled accommodation.
"I'm getting to a point where I can't do it anymore, I'm trying to save my money but it's hard," said John, 19, one of a small group of men living under Waterloo Bridge.
 

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Meanwhile for some of those who have been homeless for a number of years, getting off the streets can be difficult, especially for those battling drug additions.
One of those is Bryan outside the Piccadilly Theatre. Despite his problems, he says he refuses to take any money from children, recalling how one girl recently tried to give him her pocket money.
"Afterwards I sat and I cried," he said.

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