He’d been living on the streets for a number of weeks when he was given the lifeline he needed to get back on track. Here’s his story.
“When I was at my lowest ebb I was picked up off the street by the team from St. Mungo’s, my local housing association, and was lucky to be offered a room in first stage hostel.
“I had my own room and I was assigned a key worker who supported me with everything from registering with a doctor to helping me keep in touch with my young son. At the time I was struggling with alcohol and drug addiction so I was also registered onto a prescription to help me cut down and eventually get clean.
“I soon got one of only five self-contained flats within the hostel complex as I was a prime case for a move on to independent living as I showed so much promise to turn my life around.
“This was over ten years ago and my life is very different now. If it wasn’t for that initial helping hand from St Mungo’s I don’t know where I’d be now.
“I was persuaded to get involved with a service user group called Outside In. All of the people on the group are people living in homeless hostels. They work with St Mungo’s to improve service delivery and use their voice, skills and talent to achieve this. From initially just attending one meeting I got more and more involved in the group. My confidence grew and I realised I had something valuable to offer.
“From there I took the opportunity to get some volunteering experience with a charity called Groundswell which supports homeless people to take control of their lives. This eventually led to an opportunity for part time paid work with the charity and I’ve since worked my way up to becoming their full time finance officer.
“I’ve worked extremely hard to get where I am. It’s like that quote I once heard when I was living in the hostel ‘we are all in the gutter but some of us look at the stars’. I know I couldn’t have done it without that initial spring board of the hostel flat where I could work with my support worker to gain my independence nor the follow-on worker with St Mungo’s who helped me get settled in my new independent flat and introduced me to various services like registering with a new doctor and dentist. She gave me a lot of support in those first few months when finding my feet in a new area.
“I know if I can do it, other people can too.”