St Mungo’s New Street centre in Bristol has been transformed and yesterday was re-opened by HRH The Duke of Kent. His Royal Highness met staff and clients to hear how St Mungo’s has not only transformed the centre but their lives too. Barbara (pictured left in photo), former client and current support worker in our Bristol women’s services tells Communications Officer Jo Lenny about how her day unfolded and her own experience of rough sleeping.
The hardest thing I have ever done in my life
I am now a fully-fledged support worker after being recently promoted from my apprenticeship – something I am hugely proud of. If you had asked me a few years ago what I would be doing today my honest response is I would probably not be alive.
Yet, at 7am I found myself at the BBC Radio Bristol studios telling thousands listeners my life story. Describing how in 2013 I wandered into the New Street centre, dazed by all the crafts and activities taking place and doing the hardest thing I have ever done in my life – asking for help.
“It was a tough lonely time”
I was scared to be integrated back into society. I was an alcoholic at my lowest point. I had lost my family, my home, my job, my dignity and my friends. I spent my time wandering the streets looking for somewhere to sleep. It was a tough and lonely time.
I wouldn’t be alive today if I hadn’t somehow mustered up the strength to ask for help. I was lucky that Rubyjo scooped me up and asked me to join the Putting Down Roots team. I wonder if she realises what a life line that was to me? Working with other homeless people gave me the strength to carry on and I gained a horticultural qualification and later became an apprentice support worker.
“I felt a special symetry to the reopening of the centre”
My one wish for anyone struggling with homelessness is to find the courage to put your hand out and ask for help. It’s the hardest thing, believe me.
So as I watched His Royal Highness, who has been a patron of the charity since 2009, plant a commemorative tree in the urban garden at New Street – I felt a perfect symmetry to the re-opening of the centre, the tree putting down its new roots and feel so proud that I was standing here to witness it. My experience is a gift, and you only keep your gift if you share it with others.
We’d like to say a huge thank you to our corporate sponsors Tesco, Unite Students and Barratt homes who generously supplied materials, furnishings and staff time to transform New Street centre, which has supported more than 270 clients over the last year.