More people will need our help this winter. The consequences of the cost-of-living crisis and the aftermath of the pandemic mean we expect to see increasing numbers of people homeless and rough sleeping, seeking our help.
This winter, with your help, we hope to raise £15,000 for people who have nowhere else to turn, across Luton and Central Bedfordshire.
Help us to help people like Ben…
“After an accident at work, I lost my job. I had worked for over 40 years and had never been unemployed. I was completely lost. Things got worse when I couldn’t afford to pay my rent. My landlord threw me out and I became homeless.
I began sleeping on the streets of Luton as I didn’t have anyone else to turn to. I had always struggled with relationships and had lost touch with my family since I moved out as a teenager.
Eventually, I made friends in similar situations and began staying with them in an abandoned underground car park. My friends had their struggles though. Eventually, the space became covered in faeces, rats, needles, and standing water.
Months later, one of my friends died after drinking heavily in the car park. He had turned to drink to deal with his traumas and situation. I was distraught.
To make things worse, we became a target for violence and abuse. One day, a group of youths verbally abused us and threw bricks at us. They told us we were ‘scum’ and we would ‘be better off dead’. I began to believe them. To make things worse, our sleeping bags and belongings were set alight. I had nothing left.
Shortly after this, an outreach worker from NOAH found me. I didn’t know who ‘NOAH’ were but I thought I had to protect myself and my friends. I said: “I’m fine, I don’t need anything.”
Trust was difficult for me. I had struggled with this since I was young after growing up in an abusive household. My parents were cold towards me and never once showed me affection. I felt like I was a burden to them. Our home was a hostile environment, and they argued and fought terribly. But they always took it out on me. As a child, I was so confused.
One day I plucked up the courage to tell a friend’s parent, what was going on at home, but they didn’t believe me. They said I was making it up and that I shouldn’t ever speak about it again. From that day on, I felt like the only person I could rely on was myself.
NOAH began visiting me regularly offering help, but I always refused. I could figure this out alone, I didn’t need anyone. I also thought they might force me into situations I didn’t want to do. In the winter, I became really sick and unwell. A NOAH outreach worker found me, called me an ambulance, and I was taken to the L&D hospital.
After a few weeks I was discharged with a bag of medication. But it was 3 days before Christmas and I was homeless once again.
I was scared to go back to the car park. I was worried I would get ill again from the terrible conditions. I didn’t know what to do. I walked around the Luton Town Centre for 36 hours without any sleep. I was exhausted.
Then, for the first time, I went to the NOAH welfare centre. A project worker welcomed me in and offered me a hot shower, a hot meal, sleeping bag, and warm clothing. They told me they could find me accommodation in a shared space. The thought of this panicked me. I didn’t know who I would be living with, and this did not sit well with me. I made a rash decision, took my sleeping bag, left, and went back to the underground car park.
The outreach workers kept visiting me and offering support, but I didn’t care. I did not see any hope anymore. It wasn’t long before I fell ill again and was admitted back to hospital with severe breathing problems. Everyone feared it was COVID-19, but it was something worse. I had heart failure. For the first time, I was scared I would die.
Whilst in hospital, a NOAH outreach worker contacted me. They explained that because of my extreme ill health, I would be entitled to single accommodation. I knew if I didn’t accept, things would end badly. My health was in a really bad place. I had tears in my eyes as I held the phone up to my ear and whispered ‘yes.’
Before I was discharged from hospital, a NOAH project worker helped me access benefits for the first time. Because I didn’t yet have a fixed address, they let me use the NOAH address. They even helped me fill out the forms, I would of struggled without their help.
After a few weeks, I was offered a small flat. I couldn’t believe it. All I wanted was somewhere I could improve my health, until I could get back into work and now it was finally here. At last, I had a place to call home again.
To this day, I can’t believe NOAH did not give up on me. I honestly think I would be dead if it wasn’t for them. They saved me, even when I was too scared to save myself.
I now have hopes for the future and to get back into work. I know NOAH can help me achieve this through their Academy. But for now, I have to focus on getting my health into a better place.
With NOAH’s help and referral, I have started getting support and counselling for my childhood traumas. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve learnt that I have to deal with the past to be able to create a better future.
I thank NOAH for helping me to trust again. Good people do exist. I owe them everything.”
Thank you for reading my story. I am only halfway through my journey to recovery. If you donate, you can help me and many others to make positive changes in our life for good. – Ben
Click here to make a donation.
£15 provides gloves, hat and a backpack
£20 feeds one person for one week
£60 provides 1 night emergency accommodation