JO: I’m sat with Simone

S: yes

JO: who I met yesterday … in fact, I think …

S: yes, it was just here, yes … it was just here

JO: over there, yes … and, Simone, I am afraid to say is, at the moment, on the streets, aren’t you?

S: yes

JO: I felt … I always feel very careful about asking anyone in your position whether you wish to speak or be photographed because I know it’s … it’s a difficult thing … and I’m conscious that it’s easy to feel that I am exploiting people … but I want you … if you are comfortable .. just to tell us a bit about life as you see it …

S: well, it’s like …

JO: … your experience, and how you came to be in that position …

S: well, I am not going to be ashamed to talk because to get myself heard on a daily basis is difficult … you know, nobody wants to talk to you … no one wants to listen … so an opportunity arises and I can say … you know … listen … Hi, my name is Simone. I’m 40 years old. I’m homeless and I’m a human being … you know … I’ve been in care all my life and I separated from my partner … and .. you know .. I ended up on the streets because I had nowhere to live and I had no means … And the government has changed …. you know, we can’t use the job centre as an address so we can’t claim … and I am sorry to say I have to rely on the public every single day for everything I need … for food, for water … if I want shelter …

JO: have you been in Cambridge … sort of … for years?

S: about a year … one year

JO: and where was … where were you based before?

S: Peterborough

JO: Peterborough …

S: but I mean like … I have to stand as a 40 year old woman and beg for a shower … beg to be able to get in a bed … beg for some privacy … you know, Sundays are the worst when … you know … when the kids are normally out playing and it’s the last day of the weekend … they know it’s bath night … you know, they come in all grimy … I want to get a cup of coffee …up for a shower … a clean pair of pyjamas on, and I sit there and watch crappy TV all day – The Real Housewives, The Only Way is Essex – drinking coffee all day …getting the ki … every Sunday it hits me as I’m sitting out here begging and it makes me cry. And then I think people think I’m trying to get attention by crying but I have no privacy to go and cry anywhere else… you know .. I’ve been trying to get into a bed and breakfast for the last 40 odd days … you know … but I just never get there …. you know .. I get halfway .. whatever … I end up spending the money on food and that … because I just … I’m not getting there …

S: and Simone, I noticed … almost immediately yesterday … in fact, I’ve been recording myself when I haven’t be able to do interviews and things, I quickly make a little memo … sort of a voice memo … and I said I noticed you were in a lot of trouble physically at the moment … Do you mind saying something about that ?

S: no … well

JO: Is that something that has happened lately?

S: yes, yes … I just found out I’ve got cancer … I’ve got an infection in my blood … I’ve just seen the outreach team again in the hospital’s ringing again wanting me back in … you know … it’s … I’ve had … I had a tic bury itself in my arm … I had to have an operation … I’ve just spent so much time in hospital and I just feel … I actually lent on my hand … [ ] my elbow and my hand and I’ve broken my finger … that’s how weak my body is …

JO: that’s why your hand

S: yes

JO: … is very swollen yes?

S: yes … and the bites as well … like people say “is that …”

JO: what’s biting you?

S: I don’t know. It’s just like …

JO: something …

S: or something … it’s not even that … it might just be because I’m scratching because I’m dirty …

JO: yes

S: you know … look at how dirty I am … all I want is a shower … you know … [ ] …. like I said to you yesterday .. . [ ] £20 will keep me there ’til Monday … you know I just can’t get the money .. you know … I end up getting halfway or a bit … and I have to spend it on food .. because people won’t buy me anything … I’m hungry …

JO: of course

S: I’m cold … you know …

JO: you suddenly … I mean I was trying to tell you I’d just sort of got an inkling of how destabilising it is to not have your own front door but it’s nothing like the experience you’ve got …

S:I am a door watcher as well. I watch them … I watch doors .. I just want to be going in. A lot of the people … they don’t care … they’re on drugs or on drink. I watched somebody yesterday … I was sitting outside the shop … I’m trying to get money to get into a bed and breakfast for a bed or a shower … and the guy has gone in and bought him alcohol … the homeless guy … he’d gone in and bought the homeless guy alcohol … and that just … I was just gobsmacked … I was just absolutely mortified ….

JO: so that’s someone buying …

S: a homeless person alcohol ….

JO: some booze …

S: … when …. you know … I’m standing at that same place … trying to get … I mean … how many people are out there today … £1 off twenty people …. £1 …what’s £1? … you know … £1 off twenty people gets me a room … now …