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Setting the record straight over living on the streets
A NEW book on homelessness is warning people that anyone can end up without a roof over their head.
The new book, My Story, gives the first-hand accounts of 12 homeless people in Oxford – and aims to smash prejudices about those in fear of living on the streets.
Grandfather-of-four Phillip Breach, from East Oxford, is one of 12 stories featured.
The 50-year-old became a resident of emergency accommodation at O’Hanlon House in Luther Street, Oxford, for 18 months after his second marriage broke down in 2011.
The former Oxford Boy’s School pupil also suffered brain damage after he was hit by a car in Headington when he was 20, which has also left him with a permanent limp.
Mr Breach, who claims mobility and disability allowance, told the Oxford Mail: “When people say homeless, they think drugs and alcohol, but that is not always the case.
“I think there is a great deal of prejudice with homelessness, mobility problems and disability.
“If someone is homeless they think, oh drink and drugs caused it. OK, I drink now and again, but I am totally against drugs.
“Homelessness can happen to anybody. It is just the way of life.”
The book was produced for Oxford Homeless Pathways, which provides a range of services for homeless people aged 22 and over.
O’Hanlon House provides emergency accommodation for up to 56 homeless people and Julian Housing, which is where Mr Breach is now, offers accommodation and support for individuals.
Mr Breach said: “If this book can get distributed to different organisations, such as shops, clubs, supermarkets, it would make people more aware of how homelessness can happen to anybody.
“It would make people more aware of the people being made homeless through no fault of their own.”
Lesley Dewhurst, chief executive of Oxford Homeless Pathways, said: “The main reason why we wanted to put the book together is the people who use our services were saying very clearly that they wanted the public to hear their stories.
“They thought that was the best way to educate the public and we wanted to support it.
“I think it has already had an impact on people’s perceptions of homeless people.
“I know people who have read it and they were very pleased to have heard more and found it very thought-provoking.”
The book is available to buy in Blackwells, Oxfam Book Store and the Fairtrade Shop in Cornmarket Street for £6.99, with £5 from the each sale going to Oxford Homeless Pathways.
The money raised goes towards the costs of producing the book.
It is also available online from oxhop.org.uk/ourvoices/mystory/ for a minimum donation of £5.
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