Alleviating poverty, bringing hope

“In 2018, I became homeless after my relationship broke down at home. Me and my partner constantly argued about my substance abuse which had gradually started to increase and affect our relationship.

Prior to that I’d had a pretty stable life, travelled the world, and even had a child. But in 2018, I found myself homeless with no where to go.

My boss at the time said I could stay in one of the shipping containers at work for free. It was insulated, I added carpet, and I had made it into a comfortable room. But then COVID hit and I was sadly made redundant which meant I had to leave.

I began sleeping rough in Hinsley Wreck playing fields in a tent but eventually moved on to Flitwick Woods to be away from the public eyes. I also began begging locally to fuel my drug addiction. It was really spiralling out of control. I was struggling to deal with the fact I was unemployed, I had worked all my life. I was trying to blank out all my problems and drugs was the only way I could. I’d definitely hit rock bottom.

I had been in the woods for 6 months when one early winter morning I heard a tapping on my tent door. It was horrendous weather outside, monsoon style rain. I wondered who an earth it could be. When I pulled back the zip, I found it was two Outreach Workers from NOAH.

It turned out that a member of the public had reported a sighting of me on the homeless app ‘Streetlink.’ From the report, the NOAH team tried to locate me and had finally found me after searching for several days. I immediately accepted the help. I knew things would end badly if I didn’t.

Outreach worker Adam made an appointment for me later that day. First we sorted out my universal credit. Having worked all my life, I didn’t know what I was entitled to. Just having Adam sat next to me helped so much. Instantly I didn’t have to prove I was homeless because I was referred by Adam from NOAH. I was given a small crisis loan immediately. Adam also arranged a referral to a local supported housing provider. Within days, I was offered an empty room and me and Adam went to view it. Now I had a safe space to sleep, I knew I had to deal with my drug problem.

I had been supported with substance abuse counselling on and off over the years, but it had never really helped. I knew I didn’t want to take medication to help me either as I thought I’d become reliant on it. I decided I would try to get off the drugs on my own. I didn’t have a choice if I wanted things to improve and that’s all I wanted. It was difficult at first as I came off the drugs, but it gradually got easier. I truly believe my mindset was ready. I also started recovery groups to help aid my progress.

It’s been 2 years since I moved in to supported accommodation and I have been awaiting council housing for 1 year. I got in contact with Adam earlier this year and asked him if I could volunteer in his outreach team. I wanted to do something new in my career and thought about helping others that are in the position I was once in. I thought it would be a great way to dip my toe in the water to see if it was something I’d really like to do. And well, helping others, who knew it would be so rewarding. I now volunteer twice a week on the early morning shifts with the Outreach Team searching Central Bedfordshire for rough sleepers and responding to Streetlink reports.

People who are rough sleeping can relate to me because I have been through it too. I often tell my story and the person relaxes and begins to trust me. When you are in the depths of despair and someone helps you, that is something you will never forget in your life.

Two years ago I would never have dreamed I would be able to do something like this. I sometimes think about what would have happened if NOAH hadn’t of found me. Back then, I couldn’t see a way out. Now I can see my future. I look forward to the day that I am offered independent accommodation and can get back to a sense of normality again. And who knows I might just have a new career.”

To volunteer with NOAH, complete our online application form.