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At last, Tim’s in line for a home of his own

After two decades on the streets, woman ‘with heart of gold’ helps homeless man leave ‘the pitch’

09 June, 2017 — By Koos Couvée

Tim Wright shows off his scars

AFTER 20 years of living on the streets, Highbury’s best-known homeless man is looking at the prospect of moving into his own flat.

Tim Wright lives and works on the area he calls “the pitch”, the bit of pavement outside Barclays opposite Highbury and Islington tube station, near the entrance to Highbury Fields, where he sells – or gives away – donated goods.

Now, with the help of Highbury woman Susan Kurr, recovering heroin addict Tim has had an application for a housing association flat, with home support, accepted.

“I’ve not had a proper home in 20 years,” Tim told the Tribune. “But I’ve got a unique thing here because I like to give something back to people. I’ve a lot of friends here who have been very kind to me.”

He added: “I’ve had some bad experiences. I’ve been robbed of my change one night, I’ve had my duvet nicked off me here in the winter when I was underneath it.

“Being homeless, you get a lot of people look down on you. It’s mostly people who are one wage packet from being where I am that help me. Anyone in a suit will never give you nothing.”
Greenwich-born Tim said the misery in his life started even before he was born, as he was conceived by the rape of his mother. He never knew his father and said his stepfather ­hated him and gave him regular beatings.

By the age of 14, Tim was sleeping in bus shelters when his mother and stepdad moved and he left home. He later moved to Norwich, where he found work as a builder. His mother then died of cancer, but he did not find out until three years later.

In his late 20s, Tim miraculously escaped death after he was stabbed in the heart by a 19-year-old man following an argument. Happy to show the Tribune his scars, he said he needed 28 pints of blood but he survived. However, after recovering from his injuries in hospital he found himself homeless.

Despite his past, the 47-year-old, who has been working as a bricklayer on and off for years, is upbeat, and open about his struggles with crack cocaine and heroin. “I’m on juice [methadone] now, I’m already clean of the gear,” Tim said.

In January Tim was hospitalised after his foot became infected. He almost lost his right leg due to the “worst ulcers the nurses had ever seen”.

When Ms Kurr saw Tim’s state of health she decided to help him get a flat. This week, the pair had a first successful meeting with a charity that will support Tim when he moves into his new home. She said: “I just thought his leg was never going to get better with this lifestyle. I was fearful for him so I decided to help Tim.”

Tim added: “I’m so excited. This lady [Susan] has helped me out loads. She’s got a heart of gold.

“All I need is a base to build my life back up, I’ve never had that.

“I got a good job as a bricklayer. I’m going to get back on the trowel but first I need to get this [leg] better.”

Having a flat will also mean he will be reunited with his dog, Freddy Barley, who currently lives with a friend in Holloway.

But Tim added: “I will really miss the pitch. I built up a lot of friends round here, which is why it would be such a shame to go.

“I’m going to find it really hard to get out of it [street life] but at the end of the day I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”

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