This is Richard. He’s been coming to see us for about two and a half years and things are really looking up for him now. He’s about to start a new job as a trainee in a homelessness hostel. He’ll be using his personal experience to help others in a similar situation to his. But his journey has been a long one.

Richard became homeless when his marriage broke down. He’d been a stay-at-home dad for about eight years, caring for his two lovely children. When things started going downhill, he didn’t know where to go. For a while he tried to keep it from his children, sleeping rough opposite the flat he used to share with them. But this quickly become unmanageable, and he found himself on our doorstep.

I was living in a nice apartment, in a nice complex in a very nice part of town. When I slept rough I slept over the road from where I’d been staying . The principle reason that I was still going back during the day was strangely, to look after my children and take them to school. And then pick them up from school and do the washing and the cleaning. Which is a very bizarre arrangement and when things started breaking down I ended up in the Night Centre here… But for a while I was still going in and taking them to school. So my ex and I were avoiding each other and prioritising the children which was the main thing.

Thanks to your donations we were able to put Richard in our emergency Night Centre and support him into a hostel while he found more permanent accommodation. He’s currently living in our supported housing scheme, ‘Building Prospects’, but very soon he’ll be moving on to his own place.

What I don’t think a lot of people realise is that once you get to know the people using The Connection it’s an exact mirror of society, you’ve got people from all sections of society. People who’ve had families, people who’ve had good jobs. At the other end you have people who’ve been in prison and who’ve had abused childhoods so… Don’t think it can’t happen to you because it can and very easily. But here it doesn’t matter where you’ve been, where you’ve come from, you’ll be treated well and equally.

Richard has picked himself up and re-trained so he’s now able to stand on his own two feet again. Over the past few years he’s completed a Build a Bike course, passed his European Computer Driving Licence and finished a year long course in massage therapy, which will help him to support himself in the future, as his eyesight declines due to a medical condition. Richard has spent a year volunteering as a Streetbuddy, going out on shift with our Outreach Team. And now, he is looking forward to his next step – his new job.

People who’ve been on the streets for a long time can develop mental health problems. If they don’t start off with them they can develop them so that’s always a danger. So we go and talk to them and they know we know how they feel. We say we’ll go to a meeting with you, sit with you at the doctors if you don’t trust these people. I started that a year ago and became quite interested in that. And there was a scheme going called Grow Traineeships, using the experience of homelessness to work in the homeless sector. You get the experience first which you’ve had and then you get the knowledge from specialist courses, mental health and addiction courses. The good thing is I’ll be using all the skills I got from The Connection because the computer skills to do that job I gained at The Connection, to go to work is 4 miles so I’ll be using the bicycle I got at The Connection… I wouldn’t have this without The Connection.

Without your donations, Richard wouldn’t have been able to receive this support – and to now be in a position to support others. Please donate to help more people like Richard. Thank you.

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