"I am hoping to become a social worker and use my experience so that people don’t make the mistakes I made. I just want to be a nice person who helps others that are suffering from addiction or experiencing homelessness."
I moved to London a couple of years ago. I knew nobody here and ended up living in shared accommodation, working part-time jobs locally to get by. I have a history of drug addiction, and I unfortunately surrounded myself with the wrong people during that time. I started to fall back into the wrong ways. At the same time, our landlord started to mess us around with our rent, and the property was not fit for purpose. I was unable to meet the rent payments, and I ended up getting a tent and sleeping rough in Stratford for three years.
I can remember random people walking past me on their way to work saying “Sort yourself out!” or “Get a job”. That really upset me, as I always thought about saying back to them “You have no idea how I got here”, and this is the case for so many other people rough sleeping; everyone has their own story of how they got there. I was surrounded by loads of people who all came to me for help and guidance, and we’d always say to each other that one day we’ll get off the streets.
One night I got attacked. I was getting off the bus, and someone grabbed me by my wrist. He put me in a headlock and dragged me to the back of the bus shelter. I ended up in hospital with a fractured hip and was told I might never walk again. The experience of lying helplessly in a bed really opened my eyes. I was determined not to lie there forever, or give up. I remember walking out on crutches, knowing how lucky I was to be alive.
I arrived at Caritas Anchor House a couple of months afterwards. This has been a great place for me to learn how to deal with my addiction. The team here have been fantastic, they’ve helped me at every step on my sobriety journey, and I’ve now been sober for nine months. What really helped me on a bad day was knowing that I could walk into the office anytime to chat about what was on my mind. I wouldn’t have had this support if I was still in that house share or living by myself. The team are now helping me with skills for living independently, such as budgeting skills.
Despite everything I’ve been through, I’ve always wanted to finish my degree in Psychological Sciences which I studied over 20 years ago. Since being at Caritas Anchor House, I’ve been able to recover and get into the right headspace to finish my degree at a local university. I was so happy to finally graduate. I am now hoping to become a social worker and use my experience so that people don’t make the same mistakes I made. I just want to be a nice person who helps others that are suffering from addiction or experiencing homelessness.
A few years ago I truly believed that I wouldn’t live to see 50. But right now I am in a very good place. I have bad days, but I know that I am only human, and I try not to be too hard on myself. I am a lot more settled than I used to be. With small steps, one at a time, I believe I will achieve my ambition to become a social worker.