Jo loves his flat. He loves being able to go to bed when he wants. He loves cooking and most of all he loves his independence.
This is a far cry from where he found himself a few years ago; living on the streets, battling with alcohol after having lost his job, home and relationship. But Jo’s problems can all be traced back to one, devastating event.
12 years ago Jo was on his way to work at the Immigration Office in Croydon. This day he was running late, so jumped onto the middle of the train rather than his usual carriage towards the back at Liverpool St station. Jo suddenly heard a crashing noise from the next carriage. He didn’t realise then that he was caught up in the 7/7 bombings of London.
The next thing he knew a man ran up to him with blood all over his face. Jo got off the train where he saw a young woman crying so he picked her up and carried her along the track to the safety of the next station at Aldgate East. When they emerged onto the street, his first thought was to call his manager to say he would be late, not realising that he had suffered multiple cuts to his back where glass had shattered all over him from the explosion.
In the days and weeks that followed, no one suggested to Jo to go to the hospital, or offered him any help so he tried his best to carry on as normal. But within six weeks he couldn’t function any more.
Jo was fired from his job, his relationship broke down and he found himself living on the streets. Throughout this time, he received no support to help manage the devastating impact the bombings had on his mental health.
Eventually, Jo found himself at St Matthews Church in Brixton where he was referred into accommodation at Kings Court, a supported housing scheme in Streatham. He stayed there for two years before moving in to Orsett Street, a Peabody Group supported housing scheme in Kennington.
Orsett St offered him higher levels of support to manage both his mental health and his drinking: “They helped me with everything, from benefits and money to hospital appointments and even a visit to the zoo. All the team were fantastic.”
While at Orsett St, Jo was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia which was made worse by his drinking. During his time at the service, he undertook an alcohol rehabilitation course which helped him cut down on his drinking however it still remains an issue in his life.
After two and a half years, Jo was ready to move on from Orsett Street which is when he moved into his current flat where he lives independently. Jo still has a Peabody Group support worker who visits him regularly but he is now managing much more independently. His sister, daughter and grandson all regularly visit him and he loves his home:
“I have been helped so much and the support has been fantastic. They didn’t leave me alone, they made sure I was safe, I had food in the cupboard and they even helped me to get stuff for my kitchen. I still have a long way to go but my aim is to get my mind back to normal, get back to work and start helping people.
After the bombings I slipped through the net. I didn’t go to hospital, no one helped me with my mental health or even checked in to see how I was doing. I tried to carry on as usual but it affected me much more than I realised, I wasn’t able to cope and I ended up being sectioned.
But this flat is the best thing that’s happened to me. I’m getting there slowly but the support I’ve received has been very positive and I would recommend them to anyone.”