By Dale Haslam
Mick became a beggar around six years ago after helping a friend – and has been doing it most nights since.
However, thanks to the help of Aberdeen Cyrenians, the 72-year-old is hoping to get his life back on track.
It started in 2012 when Mick was with a pal who had to go into hospital and was running the risk of losing his begging pitch on Union Street.
Mick offered to mind the pitch – and a dog – for his friend and, when his employer heard he had been spotted there, they terminated Mick’s employment – so he started begging himself.
Mick, who moved to Aberdeen from his native Shipley in Yorkshire in the 1970s, said: “My approach is to sit there. I never ask anyone for money. I never shake a cup. If people want to talk to me or give me anything, it’s their decision.”
He added: “When I lost my job as a gas fitter, I was only getting a state pension of £159 a week and it wasn’t lasting me.
“I thought ‘how the hell am I going to manage?’ I thought I might as well see how much I can make.”
Mick’s pitch is on Union Street.
He said: “I’ve been at that spot for 18 months.
“I’m not worried about being out on my own at night because I get a lot of support from people.
“If there’s trouble, I know the police, the bouncers at Espionage, the security guards at McDonald’s, street pastors and the taxi marshals would be there for me.”
“Begging is bad though. You’re sitting there for hours in the cold and the rain.
“Some beggars only come out at weekends when they think there is more money to be earned.”
Mick said Aberdeen Cyrenians have been a huge help to him, giving him clothing and practical support.
Now they are helping him get a flat as he is staying with friends.
Mick said: “I would like to stop begging.
“I’m getting older.
“Once I get a flat and I can get my gas and electric in, I wouldn’t have to go out begging.
“I’m so grateful to the Cyrenians for all the help they give.
“I wouldn’t have the clothes on my back without them.”
Article originally published in The Evening Express on 10 January 2018.