I have been living on the streets since 1989, and from 1993 on I have come to Seymour Place frequently and I remained doing so for more than 25 years. 

In the eighties, I was working as an engineer in London. I had that job for a long time until I lost it. In the beginning, I had temporary jobs but then it became harder and harder because I couldn’t find any employment related to my profession or any interesting occupation at all. I had several precarious jobs which were not nearly enough to afford the rent, so that's how I started to live on the streets. 

As I didn´t have a family, I decided to use the few savings I had left to travel. I used to do so during the summer months so I spent six months travelling. The remaining time of the year I stayed over some friends’ houses in London sometimes, but mainly on the streets. 

I used the savings I had left to buy food and travel, but I usually walked from place to place in order to save some money. I walked more than twenty kilometres every day, only with my backpack with some clothes to keep me warm, books and the old map that I still have. That´s how I got used sleeping on the streets. At first, it was very hard because I wasn´t familiar with that sort of life, but then I accepted it little by little and the experience of travelling and seeing wonderful landscapes made it worthwhile. 

After my time in London, I travelled across Gibraltar for several months and from there I went to Algeciras. I went across Spain before I arrived in France, where I stayed for some time and then I walked until I got to Monaco. The police arrested me while I was sleeping on the streets of Monaco and deported me, taking me to its border with Italy. I lived there for several months and I met wonderful people who I had to say goodbye when I left for Eastern Europe. I attempted to cross through Yugoslavia but It was already 1991 and the cold war had broken out so I could not enter the country. I took a bus across Serbia in the middle of the war and I went down along the Adriatic Sea until I reached Greece. After that, I returned to London for a while and then left for Holland, where my mother is from. This is how, I travelled across almost all of northern Europe: Scandinavia, Norway, Germany, but I always spent winter time in London.

I always chose to sleep in the woods or in the parks. I ate what I found there. Man is a gatherer in his nature. We are physically prepared to walk and collect our own food. And that knowledge gave me the strength to keep on going. 

In the beginning, it was very difficult and hostile because I was not prepared for that kind of life. When I lost my job I just wanted to find another one and be able to continue with my normal life and have a house and a salary to spend. I did not want to sleep on the streets. But then I got used to it and I spent magnificent moments watching sunrises and sunsets and other very difficult moments, like that time in Greece, when two men wanted to set me on fire while I was sleeping on the street. 

If I had to define my life in a word, I would choose the name of an animal: reindeer. That's how I define myself. If the horses do not send it away, this creature would not escape, and would always stay in the same place waiting for an order. The reindeers walk and walk and only stop when they are told to do so. If you don´t tell them to stop they will continue migrating from one place to the next. That is how I feel. And I will try to keep on walking until my health, which at seventy-two years old is not very good, allows me to do so. 

I lost contact with my parents and brothers in the seventies, and because of my lifestyle I never married or had children, but I always met good people who made me feel accompanied and helped me. That is why I have been coming to Seymour Place for more than 25 years now. A lot of different people passed through this place, the staff changed innumerable times in all these years, and the building even more. I always found my home here. In my opinion, living on the streets is being able to adapt to a completely different kind of life and it is very important to feel accompanied through the process and that’s how I feel here. It is a kind of home: when someone asks for my address to write to me or send me an email I always name the WLM Seymour Place. These little details are the ones that made me (and make me) feel always at home.

  • Help more people like John by donating to WLM and help us support more homeless people off the streets and into accommodation.
  • Become a WLM volunteer and change the lives of others in John's community.