LETTER : Down and out and in need of support

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The Independent Online
I WAS interested to read your article on homelessness, winos, and the unsavoury characters that haunt the streets of our cities ("Public Enemy No One?", 10 September). Up until 18 months ago I was living the life of a street dog, sleeping in shop doorways, begging, stealing bottles of wine out of supermarkets. The more run-ins I had with the police for drinking in public places and sitting in Victoria coach station, to keep warm in the winter, the more dehumanised I became.

I am now lucky enough to be in a residential care home, trying to sort out my problem, so that I can try to live a decent life. But when I eventually get rehoused what can I look forward to? There has to be some incentive of work and fair wages.

We must not let society polarise the poor, round them up like cattle and pass laws to make their existence any harder.

I'll keep the photograph of the man lying in the park. He's not an alcoholic: all around him are empty cans of soft drinks. He's most probably one of the unfortunates thrown out of psychiatric units due to health service cuts.

Yusuf Gulmeer

Barnstaple, Devon