“I had family problems with my mum and brothers and I got kicked out when I was 18. I made my way to London.” David, 28, tells Communications Offficer, Martin, how different his life is 10 years after leaving home.
I’m from Oldham, which is on the outskirts of Manchester. I did a couple of jobs there – fashion logistics and I worked in an electric switch factory – before I moved to London.
I had family problems with my mum and brothers and I got kicked out when I was 18. I made my way to London, and I ended up on the streets. I started using crack and heroin. I then got pointed to a drug hostel. When I was there I got into a fight and I got sectioned. That’s how I ended up in St Mungo’s. I’ve been trying to recover and get better ever since.
‘Life is good’
I love football, video games and cleaning my room. I recently found out I am an uncle – I was over the moon. I go swimming a lot and I recently started playing football. It’s for the over 60s and I’m 28, but they still keep up with my pace.
Life is good because you get to live it. You don’t know what’s going to happen next.
In 2010, I quit crack and heroin. It’s been six years. Staff and friends told me to give it up. I always said I was scared of getting sick during quitting. My friend said to me it would pass because he knew people who came off it [heroin]. He said the side effects of giving up would pass which they did.
The staff here at St Mungo’s gave me really good support. I’d had enough of it – going to the chemist everyday just to feel better.I was only on 80ml of methadone to help me come off the heroin, which these days is low. Then I went down by 10ml, 10ml until I got to 5ml. At 5ml I still got sick but it passed. The side effects are hot and cold flushes, feeling cold and cold sweats and joint aches.
‘They’re good people here’
I live in Westminster at a St Mungo’s semi-independent hostel. I’ve got my own room. It’s a really good place. The staff are really nice and they’re good at helping people out. I’ve got four months left on the lease so I had a meeting with my support worker. I asked how long it would take for me to get my own semi-independent flat. She told me three months and that she would fit it to my budget.
Living here has opened my eyes. I used to be on the streets, thinking that’s the life I knew. It’s helped me immensely. It’s helped me build up my confidence. I never used to speak now I can share a joke. I probably would have overdosed by now if it wasn’t for the staff here. There was a lot of dodgy gear going around.
They’re good people here. I get good advice from them and they help me keep my appointments. They talk to me when I’m upset.
‘Brighton was not for me’
I’m hoping to move. I want to move to Victoria – to be close to my friends.I picked Brighton first, but when I went on holiday with my friends to Southend-on-Sea I decided it wasn’t for me. If you’ve lived in London for so long, you have to apply in London. The flat I’m hoping to move to has a two year lease. If I still need the support after two years then I can re-apply for the flat.
I hope to apply to become a street sweeper. Or maybe, maybe, if I’m lucky, a security guard.
How you can help
People who live in supported housing and who have complex needs related to homelessness – like substance use and mental health problems, or chronic physical ill-health – can often find it difficult to sustain an independent tenancy.
Without the right support, at the right time, people can get stuck in a cycle of homelessness. With the right support at the right time, people can recover and rebuild their lives after being homeless.
But government plans to change funding could cause irreparable damage to essential services for homeless people. They may even cause some to close.
Sign our petition to #SaveHostels here
If you’re interested in the work we do to help our clients like David and want to do more, here’s how you can get involved:
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