“The first time I had to beg for money, it was really hard. My Mum raised me to live a normal life, to work, have a home, a family. Not to do drugs, to be homeless, to be begging for money.”
Sebastian first came to The Connection, a specialist service partly funded by St Martin’s Charity, in early 2020. Their work enables people sleeping rough to find support and a safe place to live. He had been rough sleeping on and off for a few months and doing small jobs to get by. He was not able to work at the time, having come from Poland and not having settled status.
“During COVID, we were helped into hotels because the streets were supposed to be empty. Everyone was sitting at home. There were just homeless people walking around like ghosts. So, everybody got a hotel”.
Once The Connection managed to get Sebastian into a COVID hotel, he felt motivated to reduce his drug use. His support workers helped link him up with Turning Point, one of The Connection’s partners, who help people recover from addiction.
“I am still working with them. It’s not easy to get rehab, because if you want to go into rehab you need to be clean for four weeks. Every Friday, they make you take a drug test. But it’s not easy. Every time, I almost manage to do it. Almost.”
Sebastian is now living in a hostel in Victoria. He is making progress in managing his addiction. The Connection also helped Sebastian gain settled status, which will enable him to work.
“When I finish rehab, the world will be open for me. I will be able to get a job and meet some new people”.
Sebastian is taking part in some of the other activities that the centre offers. He comes in most days for food and laundry services, and also attends groups like the photography workshop.
“If you cross that door, they’re going to help you. They ask you if you want to talk. They offer you if you want to take part in the activities. I am doing a photography workshop. It’s not just one day if you go to the course, it’s six weeks. So, you have plenty of time to think about yourself, about everything… and it’s fun. With friends, with keyworkers, talking, walking…”
Sebastian continues working on his recovery and looking forward to the future. He wants to look for a job, and work with The Connection to find his own flat.
“I don’t need too much, you know? I just want a job, like working in a restaurant as I did before. And I want to get my teeth sorted. I lost my teeth because of the drugs. Soon I have my first appointment to look at my teeth. It’s going to be like I am a different person. So that is what I want to sort out, my teeth and finishing rehab. And then I’m done. I can get job, maybe even find a woman, and start a normal life”.