Islington’s Jimmy nets OBE after turning life around to help rough sleepers like him

An ex-soldier and alcoholic who slept rough for 23 years has been awarded an OBE for helping homeless people.

After leaving the armed forces in 1973, Jimmy Carlson, of Rotherfield Street, Islington, spent his time sleeping on the streets and in hostels before finally overcoming addiction in 1996.

Since then the 64-year-old has dedicated his life to helping others with drug and alcohol problems and nowhere to stay.

He said: “I am humbled to receive this honour. I have been to the bottom and never would have imagined this day.

“You would have walked over me in the street 15 years ago and thought I was just another drunk lost cause. However, I turned my life around.”

Working with Groundswell, an organisation tackling homelessness, Mr Carlson has inspired thousands to transform their lives. He has met Government ministers and been a member of the Homeless People’s Commission which presented policy recommendations to the Lords.

Mr Carlson created The Haven social club in Cromer Street, King’s Cross, which helps recovering addicts. He started it in 2003 with a �500 grant and raised more than �100,000 to keep it going.

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He said: “My message is never give up on anyone. Rough sleepers have a lot to offer too. They need to be involved in the care they receive to find independence.”

If anyone wants to support The Haven, contact