Richard Hind, Boots, Exeter

Richard prefers to live outdoors and gets his survival tips from Bear Grylls and Ray Mears

I choose to live outside. I was born on a farm in Cumbria, so I’ve always been an outdoor person. I just enjoy it. Years ago, when I was a lot more nimble on my legs I used to do potholing, caving, rock climbing, downhill biking, all sorts of stuff. I live down by the Double Locks in Exeter now. I’ve lived in quite a few places in my time: in Scotland, Wales, Blackpool. There must be something about Exeter because I’ve come back here twice. I think it’s the countryside and the simplicity of it. 

I’ve spent a long time building myself a camp here, about four years. I’ve just taken my time working on it, coming back and forward. I’ve got a homemade shanty kitchen and bathroom made out of pallets. I’ve also got an old safe made into a fire. I cook something different on the fire every night: it was sausages Monday, pork chops Tuesday, pasta Wednesday, I think I had steak on Friday. I’ve got a little shanty with two beds in it, a little homemade thing with logs. It’s simple really, I keep it primitive, easy to clean. It’s more than comfortable. It’s not got central heating, but it got me through the winter. 

I’m going to have to force myself inside in the future because I’m due an operation for my leg. I got knocked over when I was 19 and I folded my leg in half. It took me about four years to get back on my feet. The doctor said I couldn’t walk but I worked hard and started walking everywhere basically. It was quite the recovery but nobody else was going to do it for me. I’m stubborn in that way, it must be the northerner in me. 

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I’m waiting to find out when the operation will be. They’ve told me they won’t do the operation unless I’ve been housed, and they won’t house me unless I’ve got the operation so it’s a catch-22. I could just live the way I live but my leg is just going to get worse. The council have told me that as soon as I get into hospital they are going to allocate me somewhere straight away for the recovery period.  

I’ve been selling The Big Issue for nearly a year in Exeter. I sold the magazine for six years here then stopped when I went to Blackpool for five years on an extended holiday. I originally started selling the magazine because I saw everyone else was doing it. I thought I might as well give it a blast and see what it’s like. I enjoyed it, you meet loads of new people. There are definitely plenty of characters on the streets. 

I’ve got plenty of regular customers. They chat with me, they get me sandwiches, bottles of water. It helps, everything they do. I’ve got appreciation for it. I’m pretty positive about my pitch – I did 60 magazines last week. I think if people do fancy giving The Big Issue a go they should get in touch. I think it can be quite helpful, but it depends on what you do with the resources that are given to you. 

I’m very resourceful. I think not enough people live out in the wilderness. If you think about it, years and years ago we all used to live like this. I do think about the future though, when the cold hits your knees and your ankles seize up a bit, but you try and get your fire lit as quickly as you can and get yourself warmed up. I follow Bear Grylls and Ray Mears for survival tips. Bear Grylls uses a camera crew while Ray Mears just gets on with it and explains it word for word, which is actually quite good. Everyone knows how to light a fire using two sticks I suppose, but I get a few useful tips off them. 

Interview: Liam Geraghty

Boots, High Street, Exeter, UK