A former rough sleeper has slammed the government for their "disgusting" response to homeless sleeper's use of tents.

In recent weeks former Secretary of State Suella Braverman took to X to slam homeless people's use of tents, declaring it a "lifestyle choice".

Her comments prompted outrage in the media, while images showed tents being destroyed by councils amid remembrance celebrations.

Stephen O'Grady, 49, who currently resides in Slough has said the situation has been "ridiculous".

"For the last few years, I have been street homeless. I am now in temporary accommodation," he said.

"It is ridiculous to me that on one hand the Queen Victoria Vagrancy Act was scrapped but then it was also deemed by the [former] home secretary for it to be illegal for people to camp in public unless they are seeking help from services."

Stephen was made homeless after his then-wife changed the locks of their London home. 

Two years on the street saw him travel down to Brighton before ending up in Slough where he went into and out of temporary accommodation.

He later spent eight months sleeping in Upton Court Park with his partner.

Speaking of his own experiences, Stephen said: "I didn't feel safe. A lot of the time I didn't sleep in a tent because I felt safer being able to see what was around me.

"I'm glad I went through it, it taught me an awful lot about humanity as a whole.

"I'm in a lot better place now, I've got a roof over my head."

Slough Outreach helped Stephen and his partner get the help they needed to get off the streets.

Shin Dhother, founder of Slough Outreach said: "The government are out of touch with the reality at the moment.

"These people need help, not to be treated like aliens.

"[We're] seeing so many people walking into our new community hub asking for food, items, blankets, sleeping bags and tents - and we will continue to provide if the need is there.

"It breaks my heart [to see tents destroyed]."

In Suella Braverman's controversial statement on X on November 4 she wrote: "We cannot allow our streets to be taken over by rows of tents occupied by people, many of them from abroad, living on the streets as a lifestyle choice."

Having seen footage of tents being destroyed on TV, Stephen said "it makes no sense".

"That did happen to me twice when I was living rough - the council just come along and throw away all of your possessions.

"Criminalising people because they don't have a roof over their head is just plain wrong.

"Funding for homeless charities, mental health workers and addiction support has been cut but don't blame the people living it... and when the now ex-home secretary said it was a lifestyle choice!"

When asked what Stephen feels is the biggest misconception about being homeless, he said: "That we are all drug addicts.

"Literally overnight I went from having a well-paid decent job to being street homeless.

"And the look on people's faces - while before I was seen with an ounce of respect, to just disdain. It is quite upsetting but you get used to it."

Slough Borough Council has been criticised for their role in destroying tents.

However, a spokesperson for the council said: "We do not and will not routinely remove tents from rough sleepers.

"We do have a team who engage with all rough sleepers to provide advice and support and connect them to charities and council services which can help.

"We consider their tents as their property and if they are on council land and there are no other issues then other than our engagement with them, we leave them be."