Reports

Andrea interviews Nicolas about the Great Tommy Sleep Out


Reported by Andrea

Published on Tuesday, April 9th, 2024

Accommodation Money and Finance Support and Relationships
Reports

Andrea interviews Nicolas about the Great Tommy Sleep Out


Written by Andrea

Published on Tuesday, April 9th, 2024

Accommodation

Money and Finance

Support and Relationships

Nicholas Cohen shared his experiences as a Royal Naval veteran and former rough sleeper with Andrea. 

Nicholas has come a long way and is now supporting homeless veterans by taking part in The Great Tommy Sleep Out. 

I’m a Royal Naval Veteran and former homeless rough sleeper. 

Some examples of where I slept whilst on the street: 

In a tent along the canal
In a tent in a graveyard
In a sleeping bag in a shop doorway
In a sleeping bag in the stairwell of a shopping centre multistorey car park
In a sleeping bag on an inflatable mattress in a church, (food and hot drinks provided)
In a hotel courtesy of local council
In a bed and breakfast courtesy of local council
In a homeless hostel
On a friends sofa
Behind some skips
On a dumped sofa behind some garages
In a shipping container half full of used tyres left open by Quickfit
In woodland under a makeshift shelter. 

There are probably many more that have escaped my memory. My point is, regardless of where I slept, from behind a skip to a 4-star hotel I was still a homeless veteran. 

Some nights were definitely not very nice at all, others not so bad, but I can tell you even when sleeping in a warm 4-star hotel with your room cleaned and linen changed daily and a tv and kettle the novelty quickly wears off and the reality of not having a permanent private base to call your own can be quite depressing. Never being able to personalise the hotel room because you could be moved on the next day. 

So please don’t think sleeping in a tent in your garden or a campervan in a layby is wrong. But also don’t think sleeping in a shop doorway or wild camping with bushcraft tools is wrong either. I’ve seen civilian rough sleepers with better kit than the average seasonal camper. 

What is important is to give a veteran the opportunity to change their circumstances and environment. 

With help from charities just like the Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) I was able to find accommodation, find my feet in the community, find work and now have a settled comfortable life. Without the opportunity charities like the RBLI provide veterans would stand no chance. The council score homelessness applications on if an individual is at risk by being street homeless. So without medical or mental health reasons or severe vulnerability the council will automatically presume an armed forces veteran is better equipped to survive living on the streets than the average joe public, absolving the council of any responsibility. Thankfully there is such a thing now called the armed forces covenant, which is a promise by the nation that anyone who is currently serving or has served will be treated fairly.

Written by Andrea


I am a freelance journalist interested in empowering vulnerable communities to have their stories heard

Read all of Andrea's articles

Tags


Accommodation Money and Finance Support and Relationships

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *