Dennis became homeless after the relationship with his family fell apart. Because he had no one else he could stay with long term, his circumstances quickly changed.
“It’s not a gradual progression. It’s almost like jumping off the cliff. You’re just not quite sure how far down you’re going to go.”
He slept rough in Westminster on and off for six years and admits that he was difficult to help because he was wary of what the Street Team from The Connection wanted from him.
“In the back of my mind I was thinking ‘what do they want from me?’ No one gives anything for nothing. It took me a long time to realise that they didn’t want anything from me, other than for me to go away, but to go away in a nice way. Basically, to go and get myself sorted out and in accommodation. I wasn’t the easiest of people and I would engage people (street team) but I would always say ‘let me think about it’ and then I’d wait for that offer to expire and then I’d say ‘fine let’s start again’.”
Yet the deterioration of his mental and physical health meant Dennis did eventually seek help from The Connection. The team helped him find suitable housing and supported him to become involved through its Step Up volunteering programme, which he says has improved his confidence and how he feels.
“I’ve started to hold this place quite dear and become quite protective of it. Because I’ve seen what it can do for people. That’s what it’s done for me.”