Homelessness is normally caused by two detrimental changes in someone’s life. Sadly many people think that these changes are down to someone’s personal failings when often these are outside of their control.

Seyi is a good example of this. He lost his job because of the recession in 2010 and then his immigration status came into question, even though he’d been living in the UK for 30 years. This meant he couldn’t get another job and things started to unravel at a frightening pace, “I couldn’t pay my rent and I was just trying to survive. I was optimistic that things would come up, but then nothing came up.”

He was overwhelmed by his situation and embarrassment stopped him from asking for help “There was that fear and question of pride. I didn’t want to tell people. I couldn’t even tell my sister. Because sometimes you create an image and a status for yourself and it would be like falling from grace, that’s what it felt like.”

He started coming into The Connection but was initially avoiding workers and just using the showers and having something hot to eat. Then one day: “Anna grabbed me and she sat me down, had a long chat with me, explain everything to me, this is what we do. She introduced me to Workspace and things you can do and that’s how it really started.”

This was the turning point for Seyi and he started accepting help, “First of all you have to accept your situation. I’m in a bad situation. You mustn’t be in denial. You can pretend all you want but you’re still going to be homeless. It’s better to say ok this is my situation and I’m going to cope and their job is to help me.”

He got involved in everything he could. Starting with the accredited IT courses and then volunteering through our in-house scheme Step Up. He thinks that having a positive attitude, even when you’re suffering emotionally is the only way to really change your situation,
“You have to put yourself through voluntary work, create that distraction. A distraction from your distraction. You are busy and from there you get to meet people, connect with people. People will help you. It gave me structure and it developed me as well. It makes you stronger, a better person. I spent most of my day busy here. It’s good for my mental health. I don’t have time to do depression.”

He’s really enjoyed volunteering particularly helping recruit new staff members to work at The Connection by being part of the client interview panel. “I’ve had some great training from Wyn about how to conduct interviews and so far the feedback has been very good. You have to be fair to everyone. You ask them the same questions in the same format. I know it’s very natural to say you like this person but I know from what I’ve experienced that some people are very good at interviews. They’re well practiced but it doesn’t make them the better person for the job.”

His determination to succeed and positive attitude means life is much better now. His immigration status has been resolved, he’s just moved into one of The Connection’s housing schemes and is about to start work as a trainee helping rough sleepers, “I came in to this building not a happy person. There’s been so much change in me and I see myself having impact on other people and it feels good.”