Sleeping rough: ‘The older you get, the harder it becomes’

With Sleep Easy 2014 approaching, when Exeter residents will sleep rough overnight, Ben Stupples talked to one of the city’s regular street-sleepers

Big Issue Sleep Easy Sleep Easy 2014 the tab the tab exeter YMCA

Dubbed by some students as ‘Exeter’s nicest Big Issue seller,’ Chris Greenall, 35, has been one of the magazine’s vendors for the past seventeen years.

Now based in Cathedral Close, Chris started selling the magazine after “falling on hard times” following his move away from his “broken home” in Burnley.

“The Big Issue was sort of a surrogate family,” Chris says, revealing a gap-filled smile as he offers his last copy to a passing-by local. “It’s always been there as a legitimate income.”

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In the past, students have both spat at Chris and given him £50

Once the shops close, Chris goes to soup-kitchens (such as Cross Lines), and then finds a car park – usually one near Exeter St. Davids – to sleep overnight.

“It’s hard sleeping rough,” Chris says, who openly admits to struggling with drugs. “The older you get, the harder it becomes. It gets into your bones.”

“If your head’s on a rock aged 21, you don’t mind so much. But if your head’s on a rock at 35, you just wake up aching.”

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After buying his last Issue, we also give him some Tab stash

Previously an Assistant Manager at Queen Street’s Subway, Chris describes himself “as one of the older ones” currently living on Exeter’s streets.

“But there are people older than me,” Chris says, who has two children in care, aged four and two. “I know people who are in their 50s.”

When asked about his future, Chris replied: “I want to get back to work: a regular, tax-paying job. I also want to be closer to my kids.”