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Life On The Streets: How The Homeless Live

As new research reveals the short life expectancy of the homeless, five people tell Sky News about their lives on the street.

:: Matt, 25

"I've been homeless in London for three years and there are a good 25 people I knew that are dead and gone now, through murders in squats or overdosing in toilets, fights and stabbings. I was walking in Camden one time and one of the local junkies went to cross the road and got hit by a lorry.

"My family know I'm here, I spoke to my Mum the other day; she's just been diagnosed with emphysema. She's not got many years left. She used to be a drug user and an alcoholic and went off the rails and my dad committed suicide; so I know more about drugs and the problems they cause than most people."

 

:: Jonathan, 52

"I hope I won't die 30 years before my time. I lost my girlfriend to pneumonia because she was living on the streets; she was only 38.

"It does get cold; you can feel it getting through to the bones. But they say it's one of the least painful ways to die, to die of the cold, because you don't really feel it, you just go numb. I saw a guy in Soho in a doorway with his throat cut, with blood all over the place; that was probably the worst thing I've seen."

 

:: Anthony, 50

"I'm 50 now, so I should be dead. Drugs and alcohol are a big killer. I was into heroin for a while. It's also difficult to find somewhere to sleep that's warm enough. Usually you have to get drunk just so you can get to sleep. I usually just sleep where I fall over.

"I just wander around most of the time; I just try and keep moving. I've only got 11 pence on me. That's what I raised today. I don't know if I'll die on the streets. I hope not. But it wouldn't bother me if I did."

 

:: Nicky, 27

"The biggest killers are drug and alcohol abuse, but the worst thing is loneliness. When you've got a drinking partner things go well, but when you've got no company, that's the worst thing. You could ask a hundred homeless people and they'd all come out with something different, but it all boils down to loneliness and depression.

"I've known several people who have died this year. One was 31 and died of pneumonia. Another was James, he was an alcoholic, he was 35 and I found him dead in his sleep. I never used to be like this. I've got a baby boy back in Manchester. I don't want to die young but when you're on the streets you don't think about that, it's not your main worry."

 

:: Dean, 25

"Alcohol and drugs are the biggest killers but it's also a struggle just to eat. There are food drop-off points but there's never enough to go around and some days you don't eat at all.

"It gets really cold at night and you can pick up germs from sleeping in doorways or using sleeping bags that haven't been washed. You just feel everyone has given up on you, that nobody cares and nobody wants to help.

"You get stressed out when you're on the streets. You see families out and about doing the Christmas thing, going for dinner, shopping, it can be very depressing. It's all about survival, making sure you eat and keep warm and stay safe at night."