Surviving Britain’s homelessness crisis – podcast

“It’s almost like I’d been prepared for it my entire life. I mean, it’d be more of a surprise if I hadn’t ended up homeless.”

Journalist Daniel Lavelle tells Nosheen Iqbal about how he ended up pitching a tent at the side of a bridle path in 2013. He was 26 and had been living in a small flat in Greater Manchester, but after months of abusing alcohol, struggling with depression and tragedies in his family, he ended up in arrears.

“The insane thing about it is that I still had my flat, I could have gone back and stayed in my flat that night. But for whatever reason, I think it’s my paranoia, I was really worried about bailiffs coming to the house and taking my stuff. And not just taking my stuff, but seeing the state of the place,” he tells Nosheen. “It was a real bomb site, unwashed clothes everywhere, discarded food containers, beer bottles, you know, it was a disgrace. So I just felt humiliated and paranoid.”

He’s now written a book called Down and Out: Surviving the Homelessness Crisis. It’s a ruthless investigation of the policies that have caused Britain’s homelessness crisis, and a look back at the circumstances that led to him rough sleeping.

“At the time, I just felt like I was a failure,” Lavelle says. “That’s one of the reasons I wrote the book, I treat it kind of like a crime scene. Because if you view it in isolation, it just looks like I was acting really irresponsibly, and crazy. But what I wanted to do is actually zoom out, if you like, and look at what led to me ending up in that situation.”

He argues that until the government invests proper resources, stops relying on charities and radically changes its approach, things will only get worse.

“It’s so easy to spiral,” he says. “It can happen to anyone.”

Journalist Daniel Lavelle, whose book Down and Out is published on 26 May, poses for a portrait in Oldham, Greater Manchester. Danny left care at the age of 19 and the book draws on his experiences of homelessness and navigating the social services system. 
Christopher Thomond for The Guardian.

Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

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