Henri – Shoreditch

Hi, I’m Henri, and Old Street is the closest thing I have to home. I’ve been in London for 15 years. I first came over here to study sculpture, as I’ve always been passionate about art. I was accepted at an Arts college in London and decided to go for a degree in interior design instead – my dad was a sculptor and said he could never make any money out of art, so I decided not to make the same mistake!

After my studies, I worked as a painter and decorator for seven years, bought a house and got married… and then my relationship broke down and I ended up homeless. I’ve been homeless now for two years, living mainly on the streets in Old Street, the area in London I know best.

I was very interested and happy when I was offered the possibility to do these tours, which involve the area where I live and which I love. I can show other people the places and the regular aspects of my life. I’m just happy that life on the street hasn’t put me in the situation where I’m a drug user or heavy alcoholic. So I hope that by meeting me people might re-think stereotypical perceptions of what it means to be homeless – not all of us are so bad.

I used to beg in the evenings and I only work part-time in a warehouse at the moment, so I’m hoping that doing these tours will be a way to stop begging. They’ll also be much more interesting and I’ll be earning money every day at a certain time, so they will change my daily routine completely… in a good way!