‘These people have lost everything’: A rough sleeper’s take on homelessness in Portsmouth

Stock photo of rough sleeper. Picture: Rex Features
Stock photo of rough sleeper. Picture: Rex Features
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Photos showing camps of homeless people in Portsmouth have laid bare the reality for rough sleepers living in the city.

Today The News reported how a group which were staying in Commercial Road were forced to move on by the council and have now set up home in Lake Road.

Speaking to homeless people, residents and business owners, the reaction to the camps has both sympathetic and critical of the damage done to the city’s reputation.

Neil Hopkinson has been sleeping rough on the city’s streets for the last two and a half years.

The 45-year-old found himself without a home after breaking up with his girlfriend and falling out with his mother.

He said: ‘You go up to the Guildhall steps and there might be eight people there at any time. It’s shameless, these people have lost everything.

Tents pitched up on Lake Road, opposite Painter's Arms

Tents pitched up on Lake Road, opposite Painter's Arms

’If I go to homeless shelters at night I will always see a lot of drug addicts. They might start up on you for no reason.

‘I feel safer on the streets. It’s ridiculous.’

Homelessness charity The Society of St James has seen more than 1,000 rough sleepers since November last year - and has helped many of them find temporary accommodation.

Unfortunately the reality for most of the city’s homeless is they are left stuck on the streets, often relying on the kindness of strangers to get by.

Neil said: ‘You get some people who are not very nice - a man came up to me the other day and told me to get up and get a job.

‘But there are others who are very generous. A person who works near where I was sleeping gave me a Kit Kat, and I’ve had people offering to go to the shop and buy food and drink for me.’

It is estimated that as many as 60 people could be homeless in Portsmouth.


Have you been homeless in Portsmouth? Have you been forced to sleep rough on the streets? We’d like to hear about your experiences.

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