Julie is sat on a park bench in central Hull with her tiny Cockapoo Ruby laid at her feet. In one hand is the stump of a cigarette and in the other a half-empty can of imported lager.

She is barefoot among a sea of broken glass and rubbish that litters the children's play area which she is sitting next to while she contemplates the world that passes her by.

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"Honestly, if you could have only seen me two years ago, I wasn't anything like this, if I could wind back time and start again none of this would ever happen," she said.

It is 8.30am and she has already started her first drink of the day.

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Julie, 56, now lives in a car next to a park after a battle with alcoholism
Ruby keeps Julie company on the bench and in the car at night

Through it all, the 56-year-old has continued to think about others, concerned about safety on the park and the things that she sees happening from her perch on the bench.

The bench at the moment is something of a front room for Julie as she is sleeping in her car just yards away from the park, she and Ruby huddling together for warmth under a blanket.

A recent domestic incident that had forced her from her latest place of refuge and into the back seat of the vehicle was evident in the black and blue bruises across her left cheek and eye socket.

"I've been sexually assaulted in this park and one of my friends was actually raped, she'd had a lot to drink but the people that come here think they can get away with anything," she said.

"There are no cameras or anything like that, it is a black spot so you get all the drug users here in the evening and it can be scary.

"I had one young lad here yesterday, he'd been smoking crack, he openly admitted it and he was rolling around all over the place. He wasn't making much sense but when he told me how old he was he was the same age as my son, that was a shock.

"He told me he was only 14 when he started taking drugs, I felt sick. I saw him going off to one of the blocks of flats here to get some more later in the night even though he was off his head.

"They're doing this right next to where the kids play in the daytime, I don't think it is right and I stay away from those hard drugs, my one is the drink."

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Asking Julie how she ended up living in a car next to the park, she said an incidence of domestic violence with her latest partner who lived nearby had seen her out of the house without any possessions save her keys.

She asked me to make a call for her on my own mobile, so I did. It is her own phone number and she wants to know where it is, the call goes straight to the answer machine.

"Two and a half years ago is when this all started really, I had everything, a job at the council, house paid off, husband, I was happy," she said.

"I broke my back in an accident, I had to have an operation, the break had been missed at first in the hospital and I was in a lot of pain, I'd always drunk a bit but I started drinking more.

"It was for pain but then I carried on, I'd had a job after my day job looking after an old man in the area near my home not that far from here.

"After I'd broken my back I didn't go back to the day job as I was still struggling so the caring role was all I had. I got caught having a drink on the job and that was it."

Julie says the things she sees from her perch on the bench are unbelievable
Julie says the things she sees from her perch on the bench are unbelievable

Julie said her life began to unravel as her drinking escalated, she felt unable to escape a cycle of self-destructive behaviour that saw her lose her family.

"In the end, 32 years of marriage just stopped, I lost my home and my husband to it and now I barely even see my children," she said.

"I couldn't go to my own daughter's wedding, I wasn't allowed to, I was kept away and I accept it was the right thing to do but it breaks my heart.

"I've seen one of my own grandchildren once and that was only because we were in a park at the same time by some chance, I haven't been able to visit, they don't know who I am."

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Julie is huddled in her faux fur coat on the edge of the bench, she says she would be ashamed if her family were to see how she had ended up and where she was now.

She is angry about the mistreatment that she has suffered but she trusts the authorities to help her find a place to live again and to get her out of the situation she finds herself in.

The one thing making her life difficult at the moment is her lack of a phone, but she parks in the same area to bed down for the night and she says that local police officers have started stopping by to check up on her.

She says the car is safer than being on the streets but isn't a nice place to wake up as the inside is thick with condensation every morning.

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Julie said: "This is it now, I haven't got anything apart from the clothes on my back, Ruby and the car. I've lost everything that I had in my life.

"I'm proud of my kids though, my daughter has two degrees, I never thought she'd do that but she has achieved so much already.

"It is one thing that keeps me going knowing that they are out there doing okay, I just wish I could take back these last two years and start all over again."

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