IN CONVERSATION : DOUG IN SHREWSBURY TOWN CENTRE

 

008 WM Shrewsbury Doug

Doug in a Shrewsbury town centre doorway.

 

AUDIO Coming soon

Doug recounts something of the eight years he has spent sleeping rough.


TRANSCRIPT

JO: no … don’t … seriously guys … I don’t want to do anything that makes you feel …

[ ] : No! It’s fine …

JO: if you’re cool with it … it’s fine …

D: I am perfectly fine with it … I like to get it out there .. like … you know ..

JO: people need to understand, yes?

D: [ ] the reality of it …. there are people out there lying … they’ve got homes and stuff, you know …

JO: is that normally people with a drug problem ?

D: drug habit … yes .. usually … yes …. they see us … [ ] I play a mouth organ … I’ve had two stolen ’cause I had a harmonica for £40 .. that was stolen … and I had .. I bought a cheap one for £15 .. that was stolen … so I had to get my old one out like … and then someone … when I had a bad attack .. I had it … and it broke .. it smashed .. it’s all sellotaped up …

JO: is this a medical attack?

D: yes … it’s hypoglycemia .. blood sugar …

JO: it’s a bit like diabetes

D: yes … a little bit …. it’s not diabetes … your blood sugar plummets .. you know … [ ]

JO: someone took your …

D: Hello sir

3rdp: Hello Doug

JO: someone took your mouth organ off you …. that was kind of them, wasn’t it? That’s not what they teach you in school, is it?

D: it’s true that is, yes …

JO: what brought you to this situation Douglas?

D: me and my girlfriend split up, like …. it’s a complicated thing like …

JO: you said you were in your fifties, yes?

D: 53 now … 54 this year ….

JO: hang on …. I wish my exhaust was that loud … so you were with someone living at home, yes … ?

D: yes at home for 20 years … but .. me and the kids … when the kids hit 16 … like … you know … me and her split up … and after a couple of years [ ] got back together … [ ] and it just didn’t work so …

JO: yes

D: I found somebody else … and my youngest son took right against it … he wouldn’t have it .. [ ] but it’s stupid … because she wanted to be with me … I wanted to be with her .. she’s got my flat … and I’m in this mess …. I’ve been like this for eight years now … but I’ve had a couple of other girlfriends … this is what they don’t like … they don’t understand like … [ ] I know it sounds stupid … [ ]

JO: you’re obviously a bit of a ladies’ man …

D: yes … well … I just love women … I just love them…. People say to me … “you always get hurt …[ ] you get hurt” … I don’t care … I’ve hurt a few of them as well like … you know … it works both ways, doesn’t it?

JO: what were you doing with yourself for most of your …

D: I was a bricklayer for most of my life …. I fell off a 70ft scaffold [ ] and it collapsed … I fell … done my neck in … done my back in … done my leg [ ]

JO: so that sort of stopped you from being able to do that …

D: Now I’ve got emphysema .. COPD … I’ve got liver disease … but I’m getting treated for that soon so that should be cured like …

JO: is it … I mean .. my impression is that … what I’ve seen .. what remains of the welfare state attaches to an address …. so if you lose your address, it starts to become really difficult to get help … is that true?

D: it is true, yes … you still can get your benefits …. people say “I’ve got no address, I can’t get benefits” … they’re lying … you can

3rd P: [ ] you can, but … [ ]

JO: it’s difficult … yes?

D: [ ] you need a care address

3rd P: [ ]

JO: are there any agencies or people that are helping … ?

3rd P: there’s just the one .. the Ark …

D: they’re closing those down … there used to be a night shelter here .. they closed that … Telford is brilliant for the homeless … [ ]

JO: Trowbridge ?

D: Telford …

JO: Telford …

D: yes … they’re brilliant … they’ve fantastic services there … they come out at night … look for you … and this bloke Paul … he even does on his own time … you know … he works .. he gets paid for [ ] … but he does it on his own time … and at night … he’s brought me out … well he does it for everybody … [ ] pork pies …

JO: just a decent bloke, yes?

D: six sausage rolls … he’s given me a … I don’t know how they get these … they get these black and white combat trousers from somewhere and they give you a pair of those …. they give you a jacket .. they give you a sleeping bag … [ ]

JO: camouflage for cities …. yes .. no … that’s very good ….

D: [ ] started a fan club for me … rolling in the money, I tell you … you know what …. me and [ ] .. my friend … [ ] last year .. playing a mouth organ … I made nearly £48,000 … but at the time I admit I was a crackhead so ..

JO: yes …. so that’s where it went …

D: yes … but I’ve jacked it all in now … [ ]

JO: well, I’m touring because I’m trying to … I’m trying to decide for myself what needs to be done and what people can do because I think they’ve got more power than they sometimes like to think …

D: yes …. [ ]

JO: and certainly than they are told ….

D: if the homeless got together … all of us … and went down to the council … and protested .. you know … outside …. you know … a decent protest … banners … try and get the press down … or somebody like yourself … photograph it … record it …

JO: I agree. I agree … I’d go further and say local residents with the homeless .. and maybe even business owners … there are some out there who have got ….

D: you would be amazed at how many people have been on the streets in Shrewsbury ….

JO: yes …..

D: loads of people stop and say like “here you are lad” and give you ten or twenty quid [ ] and say “I’ve been in your situation mate … I know what it’s like” … some people say “I’m one pay cheque away from being where you are” …

JO: So people do know some of them …

D: yes …

JO: but I think equally there are people who just don’t give a crap …

D: yes

JO: who don’t see you as humans, you know …

D: I can understand [ ] … yes … because they know … some of them know that a lot of the people here .. they are not homeless … they’re just doing it for drugs … I reckon there’s about 7 or 8 of us genuinely homeless …. [ ] you go round in town … you’ll count twenty or thirty people .. you know …

JO: so you think a majority are actually using the appearance of being homeless …

D: they are not homeless …

JO: homelessness as …

D: we’ve seen them do it … we’ve seen them come to town with rucksacks on their back … [ ]

JO: okdoke … thanks very much .. that’s really kind of you …

D: no worries …. nice to have met you …

JO: you too …


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