Jamie*, 21, has been homeless on and off – he says more on than off – since he was 15. He lived in a Volkswagen Polo, which he parked in a residential garage block, for 18 months before being forced back onto the streets.
Names have been changed.
His problems began when he started smoking spice (synthetic cannabis) seven years ago, although he says he is not using drugs anymore.
“I wasn’t allowed in school for more than two days a week, it was bad because I was smoking spice,” he explains while wrapped in a sleeping bag at the foot of the Xscape on one particularly bitter night.
“Back then I could walk into our local shop and just buy it over the counter like sweets. [Sales have now been banned].
“If I put you on the phone to my mum now she would say, ‘It was drugs that ruined Jamie’s life’. It’s like a bad dream and you’re trying to wake yourself up.”
Jason, 19, believes complex, unresolved mental health problems led him to become homeless.
He had counselling that stopped at the end of primary school and his life began to unravel while in secondary school. He left home a year ago when his relationship with his mother disintegrated, and has been homeless since.
Jason believes there is not enough support for young people who are sleeping rough and says he feels left in what he calls “the dead zone”. He is now couch surfing with friends who have a room at the YMCA.