“I’ve got a roof over my head, I’ve got food in my belly… It wasn’t easy but I’ve got used to it, and having somewhere I can call home is beyond words.”

Sean had a difficult start in life. Taken into care at a young age, he was constantly moved from place to place, never being allowed to settle. Instead of finding a safe home, the only thing that helped Sean forget a troubled childhood was substance abuse. Eventually, this led to addiction, and the streets became his life.

For years, only prison provided a break from his habit, until in 2009 he was taken into a treatment centre in Southampton.

“I embarked on a journey sorting out why Sean does the things that Sean does. ‘Cos I couldn’t understand myself. I didn’t know why I can’t just put down substances.”

Sean moved to Portsmouth where he became a Mentor and Support Worker, and spent 10 years there. He worked hard to stay clean, but the challenges from his childhood remained. Combined with the strain of missing his family and his home, Sean eventually relapsed, moved back to London and started sleeping rough in Westminster. It was here that Sean met Paul Grieve, a Street Engagement Adviser at The Connection.

“Thankfully, I got help when I came into the eyes of Paul… He gave me a phone, he put credit on it every week or when it run out, so I was able to keep in touch with him.”

When Coronavirus hit, Sean was vulnerable on the street, lying critically ill with a virus for four days before being taken to hospital. Paul managed to find him and arrange transport to safe accommodation, where Sean arrived barefoot in a hospital gown.

“The first thing I did when I got into the hotel from the hospital was have a shower and shave my beard off. The moment I shaved my beard off and cut my hair I became someone different.”

Sean used this as an opportunity to rebuild, and with the help of Paul he moved into a shared flat in London. With a stable home, close to his Mum, Sean now has the security to work through the challenges of his past, and the space to be grateful for how far he has come.

“Having a base, and somewhere where you can call home, somewhere you can retreat to, to be and feel safe… it means I can lay down roots, I can go looking for a job… I’ve got a roof over my head, I’ve got food in my belly… It wasn’t easy but I’ve got used to it, and having somewhere I can call home is beyond words.”

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