OLDHAM was the first place in the country to roll out the Covid vaccine for homeless people.

James (who asked for his name to be changed to protect his identity) spoke to The Oldham Times as he collected his food parcel from Oldham Street Angels about being homeless during the pandemic.

The 43-year-old said he has tried to get a flat “on a few occasions” but he can’t seem to break his addiction to heroin and “anything else he can get his hands on”.

Fully equipped with his sleeping bag and pillow, proudly wearing a Manchester City T-shirt, James said his life was once a different one.

“I know it’s my fault that I am homeless, I have had the support but like they all say, you can’t get help if you won’t help yourself,” he said.

“I used to have a job as a labourer and ended up getting into the drugs, that led on to heroin and then it all went downhill. I’ve had some fantastic help from these people here at Street Angels and I have had a flat as well, but it’s a different life, it’s hard holding it all together and paying bills, sometimes I think it’s easier on the streets.”

Karl (who also requested his name to be changed), meanwhile, said he had managed to turn his life around thanks to the support from homeless services in the town and has recently received his second Covid vaccine.

He said: “I was in a bad place, I was stealing to feed my habit, I was getting myself into some dark situations. With the help and the support from Street Angels I got the right care, I was clean for a few months and that helped me get a place to live.

“I still come to Street Angels to get my food and toiletries, I even get clothes when I can. I can honestly say Street Angels are angels, they have saved me from the worst. I have had my jabs and I am grateful.”