“It ended up getting physical and I ended up having to leave the house for the sake of my own safety”.
After things came to a head Russel had to flee his home. Moving between other relatives’ houses, he eventually found himself with nowhere left to go, and ended up having to sleep rough.
“I know the area, I know there’s trees which give cover and I know there’s leaves which can give warmth, so I chose to stay where I knew it was safe. I used the leaves as pillows, and I used my coat as a blanket”.
This was when he was put in touch with the team at Caring in Bristol, who receive funding from St Martin’s Charity to run Project Z. Project Z supports young people facing homelessness in the city and helps them with issues that range from housing to mental health.
“At first it was nerve wracking, but then being able to talk to someone about the situation and being able to ask for that help, it did impact my life massively. I was able to get a massive weight off my back”.
After the hard times he had gone through, Russel was struggling with his mental health, and found it difficult to speak to people about it. Nicole, who manages the project, and the other frontline workers at Project Z, were there for him when he needed to have a chat and helped him open up.
“They helped me get my life on track. It’s definitely changed my life, and I know it would change anyone else’s life. It’s changed my partner’s life. It’s changed my friends’ lives. It’s changed so many lives… It’s such an amazing atmosphere. As soon as you walk through the doors, people know you. They’re so welcoming, and it is great”.
Russel eventually felt ready to try moving home again. With the support of the team at Project Z, he was able to address the ongoing issues that had forced him to leave home in the first place.
“I decided to take it in my hands and get back to my house and I asked my dad if I could talk to him about how he was acting. I made him realise that I don’t want my life to be so down all the time, I want it to be happy. I want a family around me that I can rely on”.
This has helped Russel have a more stable base to continue his involvement with Caring in Bristol, and to continue living his life. He now volunteers with them, helping other people who are in a similar situation to the one he was in, just a few months ago.
“Now I’m able to have a voice which I didn’t realise I had. They pushed me to a point where I was able to speak about the situation and helped not just myself, but others too. People who have reached out to me and asked for help”.
He is now ready to take on the future, looking for a job and exploring all the possibilities ahead of him.