From turf wars to bin rummaging for food - why a Hartlepool 'extreme adventurer' made himself homeless
An extreme adventurer and film maker from Hartlepool went through an eye-opening experience when he made himself homeless for a new documentary.
Paul Suggitt, 52, has raised thousands of pounds for charities close to his heart in recent years from his “crazy” challenges including walking coast to coast barefoot and notching up 10,000 miles of exercise in a year.
For his latest project he spent weeks living rough on the streets of Hartlepool and Middlesbrough to shine a light on the issue of homelessness.
His experiences were filmed by FatCat Productions for the documentary Surviving Homeless coming to Amazon Prime soon.
Paul, who last year made a documentary about Middlesbrough gangland figure Lee Duffy, said: “My other challenges were a walk in the park compared to living on the streets.
"Because I’ve got the ability to do it through documentaries I’m trying to look at real world issues that can sometimes get overlooked and highlight them to people.
"Most of us are only a couple of pay cheques away from being homeless. And Covid has made a lot of people lose their jobs.
"If you haven’t got a support network around you then it’s very real that people can just end up on the streets and they have done.”
Paul, a dad of two, spent six weeks off and on living rough. He saw firsthand turf wars, people dependent on drink and drugs, tried rummaging through bins for food and experienced different responses from the public.
"Some people were kind whereas from others there was just pure hatred,” he said.
"It was a challenge establishing myself as homeless. It is quite a close knit community.
"But some of the people I met were absolutely brilliant. I understand now that the reason people use money for drink or drugs is that every day is the same and they do it to numb the pain.”
Paul sought shelter under the old Wesley chapel, in Hartlepool town centre, and relied on the public and generous takeaways for food.
He added: “I also tried bin rummaging which I didn’t take to very well.”
Everyone featured in the documentary was offered access to support and accommodation.
Paul Suggitt: Surviving Homeless is due to be available to watch free to Amazon Prime subscribers in early June.