Eggheads star CJ de Mooi to swap Monmouthshire for streets of London
9:10am Tuesday 20th August 2013 in News
MONMOUTHSHIRE celebrity CJ de Mooi has chosen to sleep rough in central London to raise the profile of the plight of the homeless.
The professional quizzer of Eggheads fame will spend a week in prominent doorways across the capital in November, to coincide with the winter chill.
Mr de Mooi has already experienced homelessness first hand, having escaped an abusive childhood just after his 17th birthday.
Three years shivering on the streets was to come, with spells in Rotherham, Sheffield, London and Amsterdam, where he travelled to on a train with no ticket and stowed away on a ferry.
Speaking to the Argus on Monday, 37-year-old Mr de Mooi said: "I was very distressed by a recent news story where members of the Metropolitan Police Service took food and possessions from rough sleepers in north London, leaving them at immediate risk of illness and hunger. This hardly represents the caring country I wish to live in.
"There are people who have decades of this to look forward to. If one person takes note of what I'm doing it will be a good thing."
Mr de Mooi will swap his Monmouthshire home for a week in London on November 23.
All he will have is a sleeping bag, the clothes he is wearing and a small amount of change, an average collected by homeless people begging per day.
The celebrity plans to carry a sign explaining what he is doing and make a video diary.
Mr de Mooi has been planning to sleep on the streets to draw attention to the situation for a while, but took the step after the Metropolitan police seized the possessions of homeless people at the Ilford baths in east London in May.
Politicians and aid groups criticised the move.
Almost 6,000 people slept on the streets of London at some point last year, according to chief executive of Crisis Leslie Morphy.
In Amsterdam, Mr de Mooi spent a year and a half in jeans, a t shirt and trench coat in the station's staircase.
For a new start, he went to Cologne and while begging outside a bar, a man approached and suggested he should try modelling.
Four and a half years of work followed and Mr de Mooi was able to escape from the rut he was in.
Around ten years later he would hit our television screens.
Mr de Mooi added: "I just want to knock people out of their complacency. The vast majority on the streets get drawn into problems like drugs and alcohol. I was very lucky I managed to avoid it all.
"A lot of the time I was begging. I won't be this time but I will try and raise funds and awareness of this awful problem by going through for a short period what I did for years and what other people do so permanently."
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