A millionaire’s son has revealed that he has been sleeping rough for over 20 years – since he was 15.
Privately-educated Ryan Staffiere, 37, has spent most of his life living in car parks and public spaces despite his privileged upbringing and being given all the opportunity in the world.
He dabbled with drugs at the age of 11 and his life went downhill from there, to the point where his affluent parents had no choice but to kick him out at 15-years-old.
Since then, Ryan has been living rough in Truro, Cornwall, and is now facing another Christmas on the streets.
He said: “My parents were millionaires. My family owned holiday cottages and I went to a private school. I’m a good boy gone wrong.
“I was kicked out when I was 15. I’m not thick, I just love the party scene. Now I’ve been on the streets, on and off, for about 21 years.”
Ryan is a familiar face at a local homeless charity’s resource centre, and is a favourite with the staff at St Petrocs Society.
They describe him as polite, kind, well spoken and clearly highly educated, taking the time to say thank you to every kind gesture.
But he admits that he’s no angel, with 93 convictions on his record and earlier this year he hit the headlines after demanding that police gave him a taxi ride home.
He says it’s been all down to drink and drugs.
Ryan added: “I was mixing with people that were using. It became a serious problem in my 20s, more than the drink was.
“I had a few girlfriends and lived with them but I was still on the drink and drugs. They were toxic relationships.
“I was a heroin addict when I was 20. When I was 25 the crack cocaine came down here. I got into it and then it’s just been a downward spiral ever since.”
Ryan often sleeps in a car park in Truro, in an effort to stay away from the weather.
He added: “I used to stay in car parks but I wouldn’t sleep. I just used to walk around at night; I was too scared to go to sleep.”
“You just get used to it. It’s no different to being a sparrow. They live outside every day. They don’t moan about not having central heating. Someone gives him a pasty and he’s chuffed.
“The worst thing is getting wet. You have to know where to go when it’s raining to keep yourself dry.”
For most of us, the festive period is a time to celebrate and Ryan is no exception. I love it,” he says. “People are so kind.”
But the kindness from others has got him into trouble.
“Last Christmas I got banned from my mum’s house,” he says. “Someone had given me a bottle of tequila, a bottle of vodka and a bottle of brandy.
“I drank them all that day. My mum wouldn’t let me in. I still see them. They don’t like my lifestyle but they have me round for a cup of tea and cook me a meal.”
This year, Ryan has reached something of a turning point and next month he is due to start rehab. He hopes it will be third time lucky.
He added: “I will be in rehab and spending Christmas with the homeless. That’s what I want to do,” he says.
Ryan is currently living in a B&B and has enrolled on various courses, which have helped boost his confidence and given him a sense of purpose.
“Two years ago I was happy injecting heroin and smoking crack. I couldn’t get a f**k that I was on the streets, I couldn’t see a future for me,” he says.
“The course have given me something to do and opened my eyes. There’s more to life than just existing.
“I’m not sat on the streets begging, trying to get a tenner for crack.
“I go shopping every week. That’s something I haven’t done before. I buy myself new clothes.”
“I’ve got courses lined up. I want to be an advocate for homeless people. I could take them to doctors appointments and things like that.
“I would volunteer at first but that’s what I want to do as a job.”
There’s one thing that motivates Ryan more than anything else, he has a 10-year-old little girl who he is not in contact with.
Her mother, Ryan’s ex-partner, died from an overdose and his daughter currently lives with family members outside of Cornwall.
Thinking of their future, Ryan added: “I want to get a little flat and get a dog and learn to drive. I want to get a job.
“When she grows up she can say my dad didn’t do well when he was younger but he’s tried his best.”