Dale was born in Leicester but his parents moved to Australia in 1973. He started getting in trouble when he was a teenager, drugs and shoplifting, and ended up in jail.
Because he wasn’t born in Australia, Dale got deported to the UK. “The last time I saw my mum, brother and sister was when they came to see me off. I didn’t get to see my dad. That was in 2008.”
I landed in London two days before Christmas. I started off working in a pub, but I became homeless when it shut down. Then I got a job at a fruit and veg stall. The bosses there were good. I owe them a lot.
They were nice people and they gave me a lot of opportunities, but I fell back into the drugs. So I lost my job there, then I was homeless again, started shoplifting again, and it was just a constant cycle: back to jail, then out on the streets, shoplifting again, back to jail.
Sometimes I slept in the park, sometimes at a shopping centre in Fulham Broadway. Sleeping rough was worst in winter.
Growing up in Australia – I’d never seen snow until I came here. I can remember waking up one morning and I was half covered in snow.
Even with the weather though I think the hardest part of sleeping rough was having a drug addiction and having to find a way of getting the money for the drugs. I had tried to quit a few times before but I just couldn’t stay focused. Using drugs was what I was used to, I mean, it’s something that I’d done for most of my life, since I was 19. I used it as a coping mechanism. I hated heroin but it was also my best friend. It was there for me when I needed it.
It was hard, especially with missing my family. I had a few times when I was really down. I tried to kill myself once, but I’m glad I didn’t succeed.