"As soon as I started sleeping rough, it felt like I didn’t exist to the world in that moment. I had nowhere to stay- no one that I could rely on for help. My relationship had completely broken down with my family and friends, so no one was concerned where I was at this point."
Just before lockdown I was started to make some serious progress with my music and film career. I have a masters in Filmmaking and have worked at Radio 1, Capital Radio and ITV. I was then invited as a VIP to an International Film Festival in Poland in November 2019. No one would expect that I’d be rough sleeping on the streets one month later.
All my friends and family did more ordinary jobs and couldn’t understand why I wanted to continue along the music and film path. My Dad was the last person to give up on me, but he saw this as the last act of defiance from me and said he would kick me out if I went to the film festival. He wanted me to get a normal everyday job like everyone else in his words.
I felt like I was on the edge of breaking through and came back to the UK to do some temporary work with Royal Mail in Romford to see me through the Winter. I ended up hopping between hostels in Tower Hill, paying a lot to travel to work. It wasn’t sustainable and I couldn’t find another temporary job. The money had completely run out and I had no one to turn to. I had no choice but to rough sleep on the streets just two weeks before Christmas.
Every night and every morning I was so concerned about where I was going to sleep. Sometimes I’d only find a place to sleep for a couple of hours, but then you’ll be asked to move along by a security guard. It’s an ongoing struggle and for a bit I didn’t see a way out of my situation. I felt like I had slipped through the cracks of society, and that no one cared.
After New Year’s, I managed to find a job as a kitchen porter, but I was still hopping between hostels. I would have to be on it every single night checking the prices online to see what the cheapest one was. This was my life from January 2020 up until when the pandemic began in March 2020, where I was then housed in emergency accommodation by the council.
I was then referred to Caritas Anchor House at the start of this year. It’s been amazing to have my accommodation all taken care of, instead of constantly looking for the cheapest hostel. Having that temporary housing security means so much. My keyworker has been amazing in helping me to understand everything that has led up to this point. In one of our early sessions, we did a mind map session where we laid out all the problems that have happened in my life. It was simple but so effective in helping me reflect and process my experience of homelessness. My keyworker encouraged me to get back in touch with friends and family. I know how important they will be as a support system when I eventually move out.
Now I have a safe place to stay at Caritas Anchor House, I’ve started to take better care of my mental and physical health, which were neglected when I was on the streets. I’ve joined the gym across the road, and I am now making a conscious effort with my diet. I feel like I can now take care of myself, and I am feeling my mental and physical health is improving day by day.
Since being here I have had the mental headspace to be able to re-strategize and refocus on my film and music career. The team here have helped me get on to some security work through BEAM. This will be a nice way for me to earn some income as I grow my music in my spare time. I feel like I am moving towards a clearer daily routine, which I’ve so missed.
I feel like my confidence is coming back now and I performed at two local festivals at Rathbone Market, one in October and another one recently in December, which Caritas Anchor House organised in partnership with the council. I am currently a Resident Representative and work with the keyworkers, frontline staff and trustees to improve the resident experience at Caritas Anchor House as much as possible.
Photo credit: Saul Perryman