Homelessness: Pauls' story

ONE of the shelter s current residents, Paul Fitchford, says it is a catch-22 situation which is holding him back. If you haven t got a job you can t get anywhere to live, if you haven t got anywhere to live you can t get a job, he explains. Paul, 59, u

ONE of the shelter's current residents, Paul Fitchford, says it is a catch-22 situation which is holding him back.

"If you haven't got a job you can't get anywhere to live, if you haven't got anywhere to live you can't get a job," he explains.

Paul, 59, used to live in Hitchin before moving to Skegness after his divorce four years ago.

He is a chef by trade and would find work during the summer months in Skegness.

Once the tourists had gone he would come down to Hertfordshire again to see his six children before returning to Lincolnshire in the spring.

This year, however, he decided to stay near to his children and has since found it hard to get accommodation and work.

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He is unable to live with his children and initially lived in a tent in Baldock before moving to the shelter three months ago.

Paul stays in the shelter overnight, leaving after breakfast when the shelter closes until the evening.

The rest of the day is then spent trying to keep warm and occupied.

He has done a few days voluntary work for the Countryside Agency, but most days take a more mundane pattern.

He said: "Most people go to the library. There is a church you can go to get a warm drink but mainly you're just walking around the streets.

"It's cold and you get bored and there's nothing to do.

"Once you get cold you stay cold and if it's raining you get wet and you've got to walk around in the same clothes."

Paul has applied to local councils for accommodation but is not hopeful of his chances.

"You're male, you're single, you're the least of their priorities," he says.

To solve his problems, Paul is currently trying to find a job with live-in accommodation.

He also continues to look for accommodation of his own, but this too is not without problems.

"I look in the paper for flats or rooms. If you're on benefits some of them won't take you, some of them will but they still want a deposit which is very hard to find when you're unemployed."

The staff at the shelter are helping Paul to look for accommodation and with signing forms.

He says he is "frustrated" by the situation and is keen to stress that given the chance, he is a hard worker.

"Up in Skegness I was working seven days a week, 14 hours a day," he says.

But he has not given up hope that things will change for him.

"It's going to take a long time but hopefully something will work out in the end," he says.