It's a tough life on the streets in Stoke on Trent

08 / 2017

“I’ve seen the looks that homeless people get and it’s no wonder they feel like they do sometimes. They’re in a bad enough situation as it is without people looking down at them, looking at them like they’re dirt.” Originally from Leek, Gary Lovatt is 45 – “I look about 65 some days!” – and a spiral into addiction left him homeless.

“The lifestyle was violent and chaotic,” he says, “drinking, taking heroin, methadone, and diazepam. People say you don’t look like a drug user, but what is a drug user? How do you define an addict? What do they look like? There’s people in high places who have addictions but they hide it well, they deceive people well.”

Gary describes his descent thus: “Drugs, loss of job, breakdown of family, committing offences, prison, nowhere to live, back in, back out.” Narcotics cost Gary everything - home, relationships, and freedom. “The only people that seem to be bothered is the church,” he says. “There are other places that do a good job but the church does everything. This place offers more than food – it offers hope.”

This place is Manna House, at Hanley’s Baptist Church, which offers food, shelter, and common human warmth to those whose lives have been turned upside down. “When on the inside the waves are going like crazy, what I find here is absolute stillness. That’s what I get from this place.” For sure, it is heaven compared to the conditions on the streets he has endured.



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