What it’s like being homeless in Edinburgh during Covid-19? - 'I was spat at and urinated on'

A homeless man, who endured five-months on Edinburgh’s streets during the first lockdown said he hit “rock bottom” during the pandemic.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 5:32 pm
Updated Monday, 5th July 2021, 7:15 am

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When Peter Henshaw moved from Leeds to the Capital in 2019, he came seeking a new life, away from crime and alcoholism.

Arriving in the Capital carrying the weight of a two-decade long battle with substance misuse Mr Henshaw hit “rock bottom” and became homeless in December 2019.

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Peter Henshaw rough sleeping in Edinburgh. 
He said these were "terrible" months.
Peter Henshaw rough sleeping in Edinburgh. He said these were "terrible" months.

The 38-year-old recounted the trauma he experienced on the Capital’s streets saying it left him completely disconnected from society.

He said: “When I hit rock bottom and was living on the streets I felt completely disconnected from society and not good enough for anyone.

“The way people treated me strengthened that feeling of disconnect. Nobody should be treated the way I was.

“I was spat at, urinated on and I woke up one day to find all my belongings had been stolen.”

Unable to continue living this way, Mr Henshaw began working with Shelter Scotland and Steps 2 Hope, a Edinburgh charity dedicated to helping people struggling with homelessness and addiction.

Now nine months sober and living independently in the city with his partner Sara, Mr Henshaw is determined to make sure no one else suffers as he did.

He said: “I don’t want anyone to have to be homeless, I think everyone has the right to have a place to call home.”

To help achieve this goal Mr Henson is taking on a 900-mile walk to London and back to raise vital funds for local charities supporting homeless people.

Starting in August, he will make the trek to London with no cash or accommodation, to recreate the experience of being homeless.

Taking just a tent, sleeping bag, clothes and a first aid kit Mr Henshaw will rely solely on the help and kindness of others.

Documenting his journey on his campaign page Walking to Freedom, the fundraiser has already received dozens of messages from people offering me somewhere to sleep or a hot meal along the way.

“I am looking forward to the walk but it’s going to be an epic challenge, and I will be fully reliant on the public for survival again. “

As well as raising must needed cash for charity, Mr Henshaw also hopes to destigmatise rough sleeping and increase public understanding of the key issue causing homelessness.

He said: “A lot of people don’t know that homelessness isn’t just about people that have rough sleep and are addicts, it’s about families with children that are stuck in temporary accommodation.”

Mr Henshaw will be self-isolating for a week before starting his walk and will also take a test before departing his home in line with government guidance.

Currently hard at work training for this mammoth challenge Mr Henshaw plans to complete a six day hike back and forth to the Falkirk Wheel as a trial run on July 5.

With a dream target of £10,000, you can find the fundraising page HERE.

All proceeds will be donated to Shelter Scotland.

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