Friday, 24 September 2010

The 'Voice of the People' Feature Profile #1: Project Peter

Peter's Story
I met Peter, man from Trinidad on the streets of Reading in the United Kingdom in the summer of 2009. What first caught my eye about Peter was his brilliant white beard as I passed him on the street. His clothes looked old and in need of repair or replacement. With a bottle in one hand and a roll up cigarette in the other at about midday simply going for a walk. He seemed cheerful as he walked along the street humming to himself and I just knew that he had a story I had to tell. I went back and stopped him and asked him if I could ask him a few questions and take his picture, a little risky admittedly as he could have been drunk or high on drugs. Fortunately Peter was sober enough to hold a conversation and agreed. As I started taking his picture, he told of how he had come over in the late 50s as part of a drive by the UK government to fill jobs that had shortages post war. He had come over to be a bus driver, had settled, married and had children and lived out his adulthood in England. However at some point in his life here, his marriage had broken down and he became estranged from his children. Consequently he now sleeps rough or in a homeless shelter. When I enquired of his homeland and why he did not return rather than live on the streets, Peter talked of how he wanted to return to Trinidad but with no living family there or money for relocation the life he now lives he felt was his only option.

There are many foreign nationals who live in situations of destitution and squalor at times particularly in the United Kingdom where they have no access to public social services to assist them when they encounter life issues. Like Peter, many become homeless, either sleeping on a relatives sofa, or in a hostel or shelter, the latter often run by religious groups rather than government initiatives. Many turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of escape and others choose to take their own lives, unable to cope with the pressures of life where they are and unable to return to their home countries. In the article 'Homeless Briton' it is shown that ethnic minorities like Peter, who are often foreign nationals are three times more likely to become homeless as a result of various social issues primarily relationship breakdown or loss of employment. A growing issue as the population of foreign nationals grows due to immigration which is largely tackled by many charities and religious groups, which needs more attention and due consideration from a social services perspective in the UK.

Peter's Photo Gallery


  1. Your pics of Peter say a thousand words. Beautiful. I appreciate your featuring this issue.

  2. This is a passionate and important mission you've taken on. Thank you for your creativity, commitment, and hard work. I love the photographs and stories. Keep on!


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