X Factor winner James Arthur’s love for home town that’s ‘given me thicker skin’

He's performed in front of millions of TV viewers and travelled the length and breadth of the UK.

But for X Factor winner James Arthur nothing beats his hometown of Redcar.

Figures obtained by Mirror Online for its Town 2020 series reveals that the town and surrounding area is among the 50 most deprived parts of the country.

The 31-year-old singer, who rose to fame after winning the ninth series of the hit show in 2012, said these figures didn't surprise him.

But despite that, he says it's a brilliant town with 'a lot of spirit' where 'the people make the place'.

He spoke of simple memories he holds fondly – kicking a ball around and going to the local club with his mates – and says being from the town has given him humility.

Speaking exclusively to Mirror Online, James said: "To this day, I absolutely adore Redcar. There's something special about it.

"We have got a family vibe and commaradery. Everybody talks to each other. The people make the place."

He added: "There's certainly enough to give you a good start to life there," while acknowledging some "bad parts" as well.

"But I have seen a lot of people flourish in the area and go on to do really well."

James was born in nearby Middlesbrough but grew up in Redcar until the age of 20 when he moved to Saltburn.

He acknowledged deprivation was an issue in the area.

"I can see how that's the case," he said. "It doesn't surprise me.

"When I was younger I went through bouts of being homeless or without somewhere to live.

"I remember wandering around the town trying to find anywhere, organisations that would help me out.

"It seemed like there wasn't a massive infrastructure.

"We have a massive unemployment rate there. There are a lot of families struggling.

"I ended up spending time in foster care, was on a waiting list and eventually got a place to live.

"The places I was given were not very nice, there didn't seem like there was very much going."

But despite some of the harder times he endured, his image of the town remains positive.

"Despite that, it's a place with a lot of spirit and people are brilliant.

"I love the place."

James, who went to Rye Hills School, said the great thing about living in a small town is the fact that a lot of people know each other.

He said living in London for the last five years has been a "massive culture shock" as walking around Redcar "everyone says hello".

"My fond memories are kicking a ball around, me and my mates going to The Piper club.

"I do have fond memories of growing up and going to school there."

His early years in the northern town have taught him a lot.

"Growing up in Redcar has given me a thicker skin," James said. "People are straight up there – if you get too big for your boots, people put you in your place.

"Growing up there has given me the right level of humility."

James said the frequency of how often he visits his old town varies depending on how busy he is.

But he loves going back to see his mum, dad, sisters and friends.

These days, driving a convertible Mercedes through Redcar, he "sticks out a bit".

But he says when he's there he just 'fits back in'.

"I've got a big group of mates there and I don't feel that different to them," he said.

"Redcar is always there in the back of my mind – it's my home. I see it in my head when I'm feeling busy and overwhelmed."

"It's mad when I go back home, I can't even go to Tesco," he joked.

But the support James gets when he's back is "super positive".

The singer will kick off his You – Up Close and Personal tour at The Empire in nearby Middlesbrough with two dates on October 3 and 4.

But performing at the venue will be extra poignant as it's so close to home.

"I used to go to the Empire for nights out in Middlesbrough," James said.

"It's going to be a bit of a moment kicking off there. It's nerve wracking but I'm sure it's going to be lovely.

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