Man braves snowy Sidmouth winter

PUBLISHED: 06:45 03 December 2010

Homeless man in sidmouth. Picture by Di Bowerman. Ref shs 7921-48-10DB

Homeless man in sidmouth. Picture by Di Bowerman. Ref shs 7921-48-10DB

Archant

A HOMELESS man from Exeter has moved to Sidmouth so he can survive this year’s snowy winter outdoors.

Aaron Wallwork, 30, spent months last winter sleeping under a motorway flyover. This year he has made the trip to Sidmouth to sleep rough and said: “I’ve lived in Sidmouth before and have got lots of friends here. It is a peaceful place and a lot warmer than Exeter.”

Aaron wants his story told because many view those who live on the streets as being either drug addicts or alcoholics.

“We are all tarred with the same brush,” said 6’4” Aaron, who admits he once did drink and take drugs when he was 19 “after I lost an ex-girlfriend in a motorcycle accident”, but claims he is now clear of any addiction.

“I am happy. My life is a street life at the moment. I’ve had moments of staying with people and I prefer being homeless.”

He claims when he stayed at a hostel for the homeless he was surrounded by “drug addicts, dealers and alcoholics” and prefers being on his own.

“I don’t feel the cold. I went to the doctor’s yesterday and he said I was fit and healthy. I was checking to see if I was well enough to sleep through the winter. I’ve never had a flu jab since living rough.”

Born in Exeter, Aaron says his “upper class” parents disowned him and he moved back to his birthplace from Chester nine years ago.

“I never really went to school, I’ve been teaching myself. I don’t have a watch, I look at the sky and the sun and work out the time.

“I’ve got friends who give me coffees, but I don’t usually get hot meals. I’ve never begged. I’ve said I would rather starve, it is better than begging.

“I’ve got friends who give me their jumpers and if it was not for my friends I would be in trouble.”

Last winter, Aaron was eating fast food leftovers found in bins in Exeter. This year he has foraged for herbs in Blackmore Gardens and has been sleeping in Connaught Gardens, where he hides a sleeping bag and pillow so he doesn’t have to carry them around when he goes walking to keep warm and look for food. “When you are outside it is completely different. You have to find water and food and somewhere to sleep as well. I walk about a lot and like looking at pictures and going to the library. I walk about every single day. Everyone recognises me.

“I’ve slept on the beach and I go to churches. I don’t believe in God, I believe in most things. Every day is an adventure to me. I go people watching. It is like live TV, especially when Carinas kicks out.”

To earn some money, Aaron offers to do odd jobs for some of the elderly residents in Sidmouth, such as clipping bushes. “People make you out to be lazy, which I am not. If someone needs help I will help them. I will stay in Sidmouth until the New Year, then I may go travelling, walking to new areas.”


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