Busker without family or home

Hoping for better: Mike Bedwell plays his guitar in Blenheim
Hoping for better: Mike Bedwell plays his guitar in Blenheim

Homeless man Mike Bedwell is busking on Blenheim's streets to earn enough to pay for food and cigarettes until he can find a job.

In a break from busking outside the Countdown supermarket on Seymour St, Mr Bedwell said he was travelling around New Zealand in search of a job after losing his meatworker's job in Te Kuiti after the freezing works burnt down.

"I don't care how much it pays. Minimum wage is fine. I just want a job."

The 21-year-old said he had been in slumps before. Raised in care, and estranged from his mother and family, he had suffered personal tragedy as well.

"I'm not on a benefit. I use my busking money to pay for food and cigarettes. I've been quite a stressed young man for the past 18 months; I've started smoking again. I lost my partner and two daughters in the past 18 months."

Now, he was travelling New Zealand, living rough and trying to find a job. "I'm raising awareness of how hard it is to find a job. People have been taking CVs but nothing is happening."

He said he was not afraid to show people that homelessness was a growing issue.

"It will continue to be so if we sell our national assets. If we keep them, we can grow employment. If we sell them, it will drive people overseas."

Mr Bedwell said busking had been paying off. It was not enough to pay for accommodation, but OK. "I'm getting a good reaction to my playing. I'm not a singer, but I write my own music."

Originally from Auckland, Mr Bedwell was not sure how long he would stay in Blenheim. He had been offered accommodation in town. "I hope to move forwards."

He said he arrived on Wednesday and was moved on by police after they objected to him sleeping on the streets. "They said it was a trend they didn't want in Marlborough, but it's growing all around New Zealand."

He said he had been falsely accused of turning to crime to survive. He said he had no record of theft or burglary convictions.

"Why would I being doing that now? I don't understand."

The Marlborough Express