Stuart's story

Stuart"I first took cannabis at 13 - it was the done thing. At 18 I took cocaine and was drinking at a young age. At 21 I got married and had three sons very quickly. The pressures of fatherhood drove me further to drugs and I soon started to use heroin.

"My wife gave me an ultimatum - choose drugs or my family. I became homeless for a little while and started renting a room. I'd always worked - whether it was as a postman, a banker, a roofer, but I somehow always managed to get evicted.

"I associated with the wrong people and was leading a very chaotic lifestyle. Soon I became properly homeless - I was on the streets for three months. As long as I had drugs though, I thought I was OK.

"I slept in a disused garage for a while but eventually I became tired. I got back on my feet for a while and started applying for jobs but soon became disillusioned. It was then that my crack and heroin addiction went sky high and I narrowly avoided prison.

"I had hit rock bottom. I swallowed my pride and realised that soon I might be dead, in jail or in hospital. I knew I couldn't live like this anymore and asked more help.

"I went into rehab and four months later moved into my own house that operated a zero tolerance policy to substance use. Unfortunately, after a year I had a drink and became homeless again.

"Eventually I was taken to No Second Night Out in Lewisham. Soon after, I moved into a St Mungo's.

"I was feeling full of shame, guilt and a lack of self worth but then my key worker introduced me to the Recovery College.

"The classes I took there ranged from self-esteem, building relationships, mental health awareness, becoming an apprentice and the art of being confident.

"I started to rebuild bridges and over 18 months, I turned my life around. It's awe inspiring - I'd be dead without it.

"Last August I joined Outside In, St Mungo's client involvement group. I love being active and keeping busy - it's my coping mechanism.

"Outside In let's me share my love and have empathy with like-minded people. I've learned how to use my issues with relapse to make me a stronger person.

"Outside In has given me the opportunity to visit hostels, have a voice, share and teach my skills, have hope and even attend directors meetings. I love it.

"I also recently attended a SITRA conference, where we discussed the importance of asset-based approaches to helping clients - not based on their needs, but qualities they already possess.

"I never want to be street homeless again. A year from now I'd like to be working as a St Mungo's Broadway project worker and I plan to apply for the apprenticeship scheme."

Back to latest case studies