Michael was working full time as a warehouse operator, living in shared accommodation. His life was comfortable. He had everything he needed. However, everything suddenly changed.
After he was evicted from his flat because the landlord wanted to sell, he couldn’t afford another place. An accident at work and other health issues meant he couldn’t work anymore. In just a few weeks, his life was in ruins, and he found himself on the streets.
“One paycheck and then it was gone. Everything. My landlord giving me a Section 21 notice, I had an accident at work, ran over my foot and just couldn’t find anywhere else to go to so came down to London.”
Michael had been homeless before; his parents kicked him out at 15 when he was on his way to school, with a £5 note and a pair of slippers. He did not know why. He did not get his own place until he was 22.
“I was on the streets for 8 years. I’m trying to fight for my life, got in with the wrong crowd, started doing drugs, started being, just stated being really bad.”
He eventually was able to improve his situation and move on. He moved to Bristol, got a job, and settled down. He’d been working ever since, until last year when he was left homeless. He knew how quickly things can change but expected to get another job and to find another place to live.
“Getting a job when you’re homeless is hard enough. Getting a place when you’ve got no credit score, no nothing, is just tough as well.”
On arrival in Central London, Michael was sleeping in a sleeping bag, on the side of the road, wherever he could get to sleep. As he’d experienced homelessness before, it didn’t really change him. He says he felt depressed and anxious, but not scared.
“There are homeless people who look out for each other. If you know the right people and you can stay in a sleeping bag, there’s plenty of spaces. People that are homeless and out on the streets are looking out for each other.
Michael was made aware of The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields’s a week after he arrived by a member of their outreach team. He was encouraged to go in and now considers it a safe space for people to come to where they can get help.
“You can get help with everything really, clothing, washing, housing, cooking. There’s a lot to offer here. When I first cane to London I didn’t have a shower for like a week, I felt really dirty and grimy, so to have this place is here’s been really good.”
The Connection have helped him access Universal Credit and get into temporary accommodation, as well as his Personal Independence Payment, which he qualifies for after his accident.
“It’s been very very good, not just for me, but for the rest of the people here. It has been good for them as well. It’s really rewarding.”
Since being in London, Michael is in a much better place. He has more friends that he has previously had and has moved into accommodation. He wants to get back to work as soon as he is settled. He does not want to claim benefits and wants to do something constructive with his time.
Scott is Michael’s support worker. He has seen Michael change in the last 6 months.
“One of the things that I admire about Michael is… one of the first things he said to me was: when all of this is over, he wants to go back to work. I thought it was possibly the last thing that he would ever achieve, returning to work. But I wholeheartedly believe he will, he’s got that attitude. He’s so positive.”