As part of our Road to Wigan Pier 2017 project, 80 years on from the publication of George Orwell’s essay, rough sleeper, Raymond Slater explains how sleeping rough saved his sanity
Raymond Slater, 55, has been homeless for the last 15 years and is currently living in Manchester. After struggling to manage on benefits, he dropped out of the system to ‘save his dignity’. As he tells Claire Donnelly, he has never been happier.
I spent years trying to find work, going to interviews, signing on and it was a constant stress. I was living with the worry of not having any money, paying the bills, fear of losing my flat and it was just a horrible way to live.
The system tells you all the time that it’s your fault, that you aren’t doing enough but there just weren’t any jobs there. I’d done stuff like security or working in supermarkets in the past and I was applying for up to three jobs a day but there wasn’t anything.
You can’t get a job if they’re not there.
I was trying to run a house on £50 a week and it’s hard. So I decided to leave it all behind. I got on a bus and got out of there. Now I don’t even sign on. I’ve got a bike and my rucksack and I can find places to eat and get washed.