A man who became homeless just a few weeks ago says the experience of having nowhere to live and having to beg from strangers simply to exist is the most degrading he has been through.

The 37-year-old, who wanted to be known simply as Matthew, is originally from Thorpe Edge, and has been relying on people in the street giving him change so he can afford a bed for the night.

Matthew did have a job and a home in the city. He trained as a stone mason with his father before going on to repairing printing machinery and latterly as a tailgate engineer.

More recently he did occasional casual labouring for a construction company in Bradford. He had been in a relationship for more than 14 years and said he had five children with his ex-girlfriend, but a few weeks ago he left amid relationship problems.

“The situation at home got to the point that we couldn’t stay together,” he explained.

“I came off the tenancy agreement so she would not lose her home. Now my aim is to get a place of my own. Because I have no address I can’t get benefits and rely on the kindness of the people of Bradford.

"I need £20 for a bed for the night with some food at Cyrenians, in Manningham Lane, and £10 for food for the day. I have no living (older) relatives. My father died three years ago, my mother two years ago and my sister, suddenly, four days after our mother. I have a grandmother but she’s 98 and suffering from dementia.

“When I first came on the street I was offered a room in a hostel but I had to leave after one night. I used to smoke heroin and have been clean for more than 20 years but there were around 25 guys at the hostel who were all addicts. It was impossible for me to stay because I can’t be around them. It means I have to beg to get £20 a day for a bed but I’d rather do that than get involved with drugs again. I don’t have a problem with alcohol either but a lot at the hostel were heavy drinkers,” he explained.

“In the few weeks I have been homeless I have met some great and understanding people who stop for a chat and give me some change. But there are times when it is not at all nice.

"Having to beg is degrading and embarrassing. I don’t stay out after 7pm or 8pm at the latest because some people think it’s funny after having a drink at night to go and kick a homeless person in the head or scatter his change across the street. I can do without that.

"In general, though, in the short time I’ve been homeless I’ve found people to be kind and friendly and the help the public do to make life easier is welcome.

"Horton Housing is confident it can find me a bedsit soon and staff will help me sort out a bank account and access benefits which I hope will only be temporary. I really want to work again so I can be self-sufficient.”

The plight of the homeless in Bradford has been well documented with many charities and individuals providing both food and shelter. Several people have also taken it upon themselves to collect clothing.

Rod Whirity, 51, a truck driver from Lidget Green, has started collecting sleeping bags and warm clothing and has set up a GoFundMe page to raise more money to buy them.

"I see homeless people and it reminds me that most of us in our warm and cosy homes are only two mortgage payments from being out on the streets ourselves.

"A lot of people find themselves on the streets through no fault of their own.

"Around 9,000 of our homeless rough sleepers around the country are ex serving forces personnel. This fund will hopefully be able to reach out help to some of them.

"My wife, Julie, and I decided we were not buying presents for the adults in our families this Christmas but would instead put the money toward sleeping bags for those sleeping on our streets.

"I want to get them handed out soon and started the fundraising page to help raise money to buy them. I've put some of my own money in there to get the ball rolling and I've also managed to buy 10 Vango ex-display sleeping bags from Marie Curie who had been donated a job lot.

"I've 15 up to now to hand out and I want to add hats, gloves and scarves to them and get them out there as soon as possible.

"I'm also going to keep a few sleeping bags in my lorry so I can hand them out to people I see sleeping rough in doorways or under cardboard as I drive around. If they accept them, great, if not, that's ok too. I appreciate some don't want help but I am not here to judge them."

Each year Bradford charity Inn Churches organises a Suits on the Street fundraiser which this year raised more than £8,000. They also organise shelters in churches over Christmas.

CEO Juli Thompson said she was thrilled with the Suits on the Streets response, particularly as she believes there are more people on the streets this year.

"While we were doing our sleep-out under the arches at Forster Square we had around eight homeless people come up to us at around 4am. They were faces I had not seen before. I have also spoken to some of the charities who offer beds and most of them are full almost all of the time."

Hope Housing, a local charity which deals with homelessness is organising an event to explore the myths around begging and hopes to provoke discussions around the issue.

Ruth Davison, a Bradford solicitor, has taken over the charity as chief executive and as well as provoking thoughts on the issue of rough sleepers is keen to provide information about what services are available in the city which offers support to people on the street.

"There are many reasons people are there and there are often questions raised about whether we should be giving them money, what the difference is between homeless people and beggars and if there are other ways to help people begging in the street. The event, Beggars - who cares? is aimed at addressing these issues and will be held at the Storehouse Cafe, in Caledonia Street, on Wednesday, November 30, between 6pm and 8pm. Stonehouse Cafe will also be providing a buffet on a pay-as-you-feel basis.

"There will also be a chance to meet frontline workers from organisations working directly with people on the streets. This is an opportunity to find out about services available across the city and alternatives to giving money to beggars."

Bradford Council said it had yet to complete its count of rough sleepers in the city but said last year the figure they had was 16. This figures does not take into account the total number of homeless people who are currently in Bradford and who use shelters as overnight accommodation as the number of available beds is not known.

A spokesman for the Council said the number of people placed by them in statutory temporary and interim accommodation, including hostels and B&B placements, is currently 65.