A man who claims he was brought up by millionaire parents has opened up about how he ended up homeless in a filthy squat, "watching his life fall apart".
Dave, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, and his wife became so desperate after being evicted from their home in North Ormesby, Middlesbrough, they unscrewed boards from the door of a derelict street house.
They slept on the dirty floor of an upstairs room for eight weeks.
The 39-year-old lived a life of luxury, as the only child of parents who built up a successful caravan park business before drugs took hold, TeessideLive reports.
An ex-heroin and cannabis user, Dave says homeless people in Middlesbrough are struggling now more than ever – after covid stopped several regular events that provided them with meals.
"I lived the high life," he says. "I'm an only child, had a good upbringing in the countryside.
"I'd never experienced any homelessness.
"I didn't see it where I lived. It was different walks of life."
He worked from 16, earning a good wage as a steel fabricator until his health deteriorated and he had to give up work.
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The couple, who are originally from a rural market town close to Teesside, moved to Middlesbrough for "cheaper" housing after being evicted from their home for not paying rent.
Dave says he was targeted and "subjected to violence" in North Ormesby by locals who looked on them as "outsiders".
The couple found an empty house to squat in, after they were evicted.
"I didn't want my wife to be rough sleeping under a bridge," says Dave. "So I managed to find a house that had been boarded up on the outskirts of North Ormesby.
"We got a lightbulb and stayed in the one bedroom.
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"It was derelict, dirty, filthy.
"We managed to get bedding, made the best of what we could and stayed there."
Regular homeless kitchens in Middlesbrough "need to reopen" urgently following the Covid pandemic, he says.
"It's a big help financially for people.
"It's hard not having the evening meal centres open, that's a big thing.
"Nobody can get any food from anywhere other than Clifton Street on a Friday.
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"At least people were fed and watered."
Dave says he found living in North Ormesby "hard".
"Middlesbrough was really good when we first moved here," he says.
"But it was eye-opening how much of a clique it was in North Ormesby.
"People kicking doors in, drugs, theft.
"I was being subjected to violence, having the house trashed.
"We had things stolen because we were classed as outsiders."
He's currently estranged from his wife for the first time since they were teenagers.
"Things have changed dramatically for me," he says. "From being brought up by parents that were millionaires to them getting divorced, then moving to Middlesbrough and watching my life fall apart."
Dave now lives in TS1 while his two children live temporarily with his mum.
He is hoping to turn his life around, see the family reunited – and even start work again.
"I want to better myself," he says, "I have a home now, it's a family home."
For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
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