‘I HAVE been through hell.’
Andrew Link sleeps on a damp mattress in the doorway of a closed shop with all his belongings on Portsmouth’s Commercial Road from dawn to dusk.
He has been sleeping on the city’s streets for five years and in that time has lost both his parents to cancer,
Andrew, 45, grew up on Wecock Farm and ran his own window cleaning business up until the age of 35, when he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
It led to serious health problems for Andrew as he struggled to get hold of medication.
He could not work and after part of his bowel was taken out during an operation, he was fitted with a colostomy bag to allow his colon to heal.
I have been through hellAndrew Luck
The bag helps relieve his waste but Andrew remains in a great deal of pain and struggles to get hold of medication.
Andrew said: ‘It has been horrendous.
‘Being unable to work just led to everything falling apart. I lost my home and then my worst fears were realised, when I lost my parents.’
His parents, Wally, 71 and Sheila Link, 69, died of prostate and pancreatic cancer respectively in the last few years.
Andrew added: ‘They were very ill so were unable to let me live with them. They were my rock.’
He told The News that while Portsmouth City Council and the city’s homelessness charities are looking to assist him, he fears that the numbers of rough sleepers on the streets is growing.
He said: ‘I think it has doubled over the last year. A lot of people are just needing help just to get by.’
Andrew has regular meetings with council officers with the intention to find him a permanent home.
The Society of St James, a homelessness charity which provides support and temporary housing for the city’s rough sleepers, have been assisting Andrew.
Through the charity, he was able to find a temporary room, but he left, claiming his belongings had been vandalised.
Trevor Pickup, chief executive of the charity said he was aware of Andrew and his situation but had no knowledge of any issues in the accommodation.
He said: ‘There is going to be problems adjusting for people who have been on the streets for a long time and we are struggling to get these people into permanent accommodation.
‘They want a permanent space but there’s a shortage so we are looking to provide around 30 to 35 rooms later on this year to get them off the streets permanently.’
Andrew added: ‘I am getting help and I just pray that I’ll get a home soon.’
ANDREW is just one of many on the city’s streets who need help.
However, this city has shown time and time again that is not shy to help those in need and our readers rallied and backed The News’ Show Them You Care This Christmas campaign last December.
Scores of our readers donated hundreds of items of clothing, from new socks and jumpers to trousers and food.
All your donations were given to the city’s homeless charities and to those on the street during a bleak time for rough sleepers in time for Christmas Day.