Marathon after living on streets

Nearly 30 years ago Barry Carpenter was a homeless 17-year old living on the streets of London. Now, having turned his life around, Barry will complete the Virgin Money London Marathon for the homeless charity Shelter.

Wednesday, 18th April 2018, 8:00 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 12:34 am
Barry Carpenter SUS-181004-103813001

Since the age of 14, Barry had been living in care in his home town of Eastbourne, switching from various children’s homes and foster care to supported living placements.

Regarded as a bad influence on his peers, Barry, now 45, found himself placed in a bedsit under supervision and given six months to improve his life.

He said, “I was given six months to get myself straight with lots of assistance from care professionals but, again, I let myself down by not accepting their help and advice.

“When the placement ended I turned to private rentals, live-in-work and homeless bed and breakfasts, but I messed them all up and it was then I decided to move to London.”

While in London, Barry was approached by a film crew to film his life as a homeless teenager in the city. He agreed and in April 1990, the documentary aired on Channel 4 with many offers of help flooding in for the teenager.

“If I had shown any willingness at all to the offers I received, then I am sure that more offers would have materialised, although even the offers I did receive I managed to ruin.

“When I look back at the documentary now I watch in despair at how unhelpful and impossible I was to help, when really I was a scared and frightened little boy.”

Barry’s attitude as a young man hindered his opportunities to prosper and he found himself alone.

He said, “A woman called Linda, who is my guardian angel, saved me from ending it all one night. She was a local youth worker and councillor and, although at the time I wasn’t a youth anymore, she helped me turn myself around, and I suppose really I grew up.”

Barry, now a taxi driver, is on a new health and fitness regime to get himself ready for the London Marathon. However, the 26.2-mile course won’t be easy for him, with parts of the route providing timely reminders of the life he used to live.

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