The Knack: How To Survive Winter Streets By Adrian Bradley

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The Independent Culture
YOU HAVE to be organised or you're going to get into problems. Get some good kit, especially sleeping bags. I always have two for the winter, so being cold isn't a problem at night - although it is when you've got nowhere to go.

If you sit, you get cold, so you walk. Find somewhere covered to sleep. I sleep in a car park. It's a bit draughty, but it's dry - the wet is more of a problem than the cold.

I cover my kit with bin bags, but a lot of homeless people can't be bothered carrying kit around and they end up trying to survive in the winter with just a blanket.

In the summer, when it's light and warm, you can sit and read outside until quite late. In the winter it's difficult because the evenings are very long. Sometimes I sit in shopping centres until the security guys chuck me out, or in a shelter and listen to my radio until it's time to go to the car park.

I avoid city centres, especially on Friday or Saturday nights when everyone's out getting drunk. The worst experience I've had is when a guy pissed on me. I had tried somewhere different to sleep and it obviously wasn't out of the way enough. Towards Christmas time you notice a change in people's attitudes - they buy the Big Issue more and give money. I suppose they're out spending loads and when they see us, standing on the street, it sparks something off and they want to be generous.

For the last two Christmases I went to a day centre: you can have a dinner there. Everywhere else is shut. If you're homeless, that's the worst thing about Christmas: nothing's open and there's nowhere to go. This year I've got a friend I can stay with on Christmas Eve. On Christmas night I shall be back at the car park.

Adrian Bradley has spent the last two winters living on the street and is a `Big Issue' vendor in Bristol. The magazine's bumper Christmas edition is on sale from tomorrow