Annabel now sees her kids regularly again

What it is, living in here, it’s the one thing that I get, really at the end of the day, the most important thing of all, is piece of mind. I feel safe.


Our Advice and Housing team work hard to help clients find suitable, affordable accommodation so they can move off the streets. One way that they do this is through our Supported Housing project, St. Martin’s House. St. Martin’s House houses up to 16 former rough sleepers with complex needs including mental health, substance misuse and physical health problems, who need extra help maintaining their accommodation. For one of our residents, Annabel, St. Martin’s House really has been the difference between life and death:

On paper Annabel had it all; a successful career, a loving husband, two young children and a beautiful house in South London to share with them. But following a gastric band operation Annabel started drinking heavily and quickly this became the most important thing in her life. One day she packed her bags and left, feeling like she couldn’t expose her children to her chaotic lifestyle any longer. After leaving she spent the next few months homeless:

“I had everything I could possibly want but it wasn’t enough. I spent a couple of days in the park and my keyworker, how he found me, is just one of those things. He found me and he basically, for the next couple of days I had to go and stay in a hostel and when I tell you, I felt safer sleeping outside than I did sleeping in this place. It was beyond anything I had ever seen.”

Luckily Annabel was able to get a space in our supported housing project, St. Martin’s House. But Annabel continued to struggle with her alcohol addiction:

“Things started getting quite bad (with my drinking), I went to Chelsea and Westminster and basically I pretty much stayed in hospital for the next year. I’ve lost 80% of my liver, I’ve got chronic cirrhosis and during that time when they were trying to evict me, I didn’t know whether I was coming or going, so for me to have been evicted at that time, it would have killed me. I mean really. And funnily enough it went to panel at Connections and there’s a gentleman I’ve never met but he kind of turned around and said ‘I think everyone deserves a second chance’.”

Thanks to being given that second chance, following a stint in rehab Annabel was able to come back to St. Martin’s house. With the support she is given there, she is now getting back on her feet:

“But if I didn’t have this place, and as a consequence to this all, my children, you know I see them pretty much every single day. My ex-husband, who I physically couldn’t look him in the eye, it was just horrendous; he is now my best friend in the whole world. My best friend, who stood by me through thick and thin, is now my partner. Every single day to me, every single day is amazing. And I’ve been here for this amount of time and if I didn’t have this place to come to when I came out of rehab there was no way, I can absolutely hand on heart tell you I wouldn’t have survived two or three days. I would have gone straight back out and because of my physical state I would have been dead. But I had this place to come back to, Lynn and Matthew, Lynn in particular has been amazing. Absolutely, I talk to her and she’s got that sort of, she’s quite lateral in her thinking and she’s really kind, she’s brilliant.”

“If I still require support, which I do, sort of, every now and then (I can access it). Yeah it helps me manage my money, it’s like I have to go down and do this. It’s just a sort of a structure. What it is, living in here, it’s the one thing that I get, really at the end of the day, the most important thing of all, is piece of mind. I feel safe. I know that if there is a problem in any worst of a way. You know I’ve got a lot of friends and family and things like that but I feel secure. I lock the door; everyone is nice to each other. I just don’t have to worry about a thing and right now, at this stage in my recovery, that’s really important.”