A reporter from a regional daily has spent a night sleeping rough to find out more about homelessness.
Martin Bagot from the Coventry Telegraph spent the night on the streets of the city centre in the run up to Poverty and Homelessness Action Week, which runs from 29 January to 6 February.
He found out more about the challenges facing rough sleepers with Kervin Julien, a Salvation Army organiser who himself spent time on the streets before getting clean from his long-standing drug addiction.
During the night, Martin met some of Coventry’s homeless population and found out how they came to be sleeping rough.
In an article about his experience, Martin wrote: “Resting my head on a cold concrete step at 3am on Saturday morning, I thought about what it must be like for people without a warm bed to return to.
“Watching my breath dissipate into the cold Coventry air was off-putting while trying to nod off. As was the loud music from a nearby nightclub and the shouts of drunken revellers just yards away.
“My Friday evening sleeping rough hadn’t got off to the best of starts – at 9pm I was given the news that the homeless couple who we were to ‘shadow’ had been jailed.
“My guide for the night, Kervin Julien, told me the young lovers were known as Coventry’s equivalent of Bonnie and Clyde, and both were addicted to crack cocaine.”
During the evening, Martin was given a tour of the known hang-outs for homeless people, where flattened cardboard boxes were sometimes the only signs of habitation.
He said that by 12.30am the temperatures had dropped to -2c and they decided to sleep in the side doorway of a church – but seemed to be invisible to other people going past.
Martin wrote: “We were smack bang in the middle of Coventry, at the foot of one of the city’s most iconic buildings.
“Not once did any of the dozens of people who walked past give even the slightest impression they had noticed us lying there, never mind acknowledge our presence. I was invisible.”