Cllr Lewis Ritchie: I was forced to live on the streets

Clr Lewis Ritchie. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Clr Lewis Ritchie. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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A councillor has spoken out about facing “wickedness” while sleeping rough on the streets as he backed support for a homelessness charity.

Independent Cllr Lewis Ritchie gave a heartfelt account of escaping a violent home in the middle of the night as a teenager before sleeping rough on the streets. He was speaking as part of a motion drumming up support for Edinburgh charity, the Rock Trust, which is holding its 25th sleep-out later this year.

Cllr Ritchie praised the “invaluable contribution” the Rock Trust has made over the last 25 years in supporting young people.

He said: “I grew up in a household hallmarked by physical and mental abuse – punched, kicked, head-butted – our heads smashed against walls and tables. The psychological abuse was worse.

“We were routinely subjected to ridicule and humiliation which left deeper scars than any physical abuse ever could. I left home on my 16th birthday, packing a rucksack and running as fast as I could out of the back door.”

He added: “I was 24 when I first slept rough for real. I had no money, no friends to stay with, no home I could return to – no options left.

“I took advantage of people and people took advantage of me. I was the recipient of tremendous kindness but I encountered some real wickedness as well. It was an experience that changes a person both for good and for ill.”

The Leith Walk 
councillor highlighted the work of the Rock Trust in preventing young people in Edinburgh going through a similar experience on the streets.

Housing and Economy Convener, Cllr Kate Campbell, who proposed the motion, urged people to take part in the sleep-out event at St Andrew Square in October.