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Homeless say they are struggling more than ever

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Homeless Ronald Jeffreys struggles as the temperatures plummet.

As the Island faces its coldest December on record, homeless people say they are struggling now more than ever.Some find abandoned cars or frail tents to sleep in, while others look for store doorways to shield them from the rain and bitter cold.According to homeless man Eugene Darrell, 57, this year has been harder than others because of the weather.“It is tough for me because it has been very cold. Usually December it is like summer,” he said.Mr Darrell had on jeans and a thin winter jacket when speaking to this paper.He said it was difficult to find blankets that covered the full length of his body and said he hid in doorways to stay warm.While he admittedly used The Salvation Army's feeding programmes, he said he didn't sleep at the shelter because there were “too many rules”.“I just do not want to go down there. I want to be free.“When you are there you have to be in bed by 11pm and out by 7.45am. I sleep anywhere as it is now.”Major Shawn Critch, of The Salvation Army, said there always seemed to be those within the homeless community who would ”not avail of shelter services”.He said: “There is no simple reason why people become homeless, and there is no simple solution to homelessness.“The Salvation Army believes that human dignity is a fundamental right for all whether people find themselves in a shelter or on the street.“There comes a point when you simply must respect the decision of the individual, as much as you might disagree or want to see something different for them.”Reginald Furbert, also known as "Sonny", said he used his large supply of sweaters and blankets to keep warm.The 59-year-old said he regularly sleeps “under someone's shelter” when it rains and has to transport his items from place to place. He added: “I never go very far.”Ronald Jeffrey, 63, said he had been living on the streets for four years. He admitted it was cold, but said there were ways for him to cope with the bad weather.“A lady comes round and gives me a couple of blankets. When it rains I stay in the car in the car park near the basketball court.”According to Mr Jeffrey he doesn't have many clothes to keep warm, but said he could buy items like pants for $2 and a coat for $5 from The Salvation Army thrift store.Mr Jeffrey said he was hungry yesterday.“Sometimes I go down to The Salvation Army, but they are closed today. I haven't eaten anything so far today.“Sometimes people give. I feel depressed when they do not give to me. I just go without or I go ask people for some change.”

Left on the streets - Eugene 'Jynx' Darrell.
Without a home - Reginald 'Sonny' Furbert