Gavin – Sheffield Cathedral

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“I’ve been sleeping in a doorway near the cathedral. It’s hard. You get lonely”

How did you become homeless?
My mum got remarried and I didn’t get on with her new husband. I was 15 when I left home and I’ve been on the road ever since. I’m 37 now. Then I started hanging with the wrong crowd and got into drugs. They said “just try some of this” and I thought “why not?” I’ve been on drugs for 20 years now and I know it’s time to sort my head out, get a place of my own for me and Neesh, my dog.

It must be hard to recover from an addiction.
I’ve been on methadone for years. I came off it all once but it knackers up your sleep patterns and I just went days without sleeping and I thought, I can’t do without sleep. So I want back on it just to help me sleep because even the sleeping pills weren’t working. I’m reducing now, but I have to be careful not to reduce too much otherwise I’ll end up crashing again.

Where are you sleeping at the moment?
I’ve had some trouble in the accommodation I was in and I’m waiting to get into a property at the moment, so I’ve been sleeping in a doorway near the cathedral. It’s hard sleeping rough. You get lonely, sat in a doorway, doing nothing.

Do you get any trouble when you are sleeping outside?
Most of the time I don’t bother other people and they don’t bother me. But then the other day my mate, he was sleeping rough and two lads jumped on his head and slashed him up. And another time, some bloke walked past me and shouted “you tramp” and then ran off. And I thought, you know what, I can’t be bothered. They don’t know nothing. They could be in this circumstance one day. It could happen to anyone.

Why do you sell the magazine?
It helps clear my mind and gets me money for food and things. And it gives me people to talk to. I like to talk to customers about it – tell them what’s in it this week and things like that. It’s good because you get regular customers, even if they don’t buy the mag every day they still stop and talk to me.

Tell us about Neesh, your dog.
I got him about four or five years ago. This bloke had him but he was hitting him and so I rescued him from that and took him with me. It’s hard getting places to stay when you have a dog and people say you look after Neesh better than you look after yourself, but Neesh always comes first. If it wasn’t for him I’d have jumped off a roof, I think. He’s company and we take care of each other.

Have you got a message for your customers?
Thank you very much to the people who buy the magazine from me and support me through the good times and bad times. I’ll get there eventually.

Interview: Christian Lisseman

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