‘I want to help people. That’s my priority.’

You may remember Manu from last year’s summer newsletter. Thanks to your support he’d recently stopped sleeping out after 11 years and had started getting involved in lots of new activities, like volunteering through The Connection’s in-house scheme, Step Up.

A year on and we’re delighted to tell you that things are continuing to go from strength to strength.

While Manu still regularly volunteers with The Connection, he’s pushed himself out of his comfort zone by embarking on a seven week homeless health peer advocate volunteer placement with another organisation called Groundswell. He’s supporting homeless people to access health care services:

‘My job is to take the clients from where they are staying to the hospital, doctors, dentists. Wherever they want to go, I’m there. I’m doing three days a week and I’m enjoying every minute of it.’
Manu explains that homeless people are more likely to have physical and mental health problems but less likely to use services:

‘Most of them think they have no right to NHS treatment. But no matter who you are, whether you’re an immigrant or not, you can. I was sick on the street with a kidney infection. I know what it’s like.’
The placement has tested Manu but he says he’s found other volunteers’ resilience very motivating and it’s helped him realise what’s important to him in life:

‘I almost packed it in, nearly quit, but some of the people inspire me to carry it on. There was one lady, she was a single mum, had a lot to do, and was still volunteering. Since I’ve been homeless I don’t care about money, I want to help people. I’ve lived their life. That’s my priority.’

The graduation ceremony was a chance for Manu to celebrate his achievement and share this success with several members of staff from The Connection, who helped him when he was homeless. One of them was User Involvement Manager Wyn Newman, who describes the emotion of attending the ceremony:

‘I felt very privileged to be invited to this event to celebrate the achievements of all the graduates. Manu is an incredibly resilient man and despite all the difficulties he has faced he has worked hard to sort his life out. He has achieved so much and this course is a good example of this. It has been challenging for him but he has stuck with it.’