This is Gary’s story, in conversation with Nathan Rosier, a Case Coordinator for our Social Impact Bond (SIB) project in London.
Nathan: So, we’re here to talk about some of your experiences and see what we can learn from it. We’ve been working together for how long now, Gary?
Gary: About a year.
N: What was your situation like when we first met?
G: I was addicted to crack and heroin, I was an alcoholic, I was homeless.
N: How long were you rough sleeping?
G: Three and a half to four years.
N: What were your first impressions when you were first homeless?
G: It didn’t bother me at first because I was used to camping and being out in the open so to me it was like a form of street camping. After a certain amount of time it does become a bit strenuous but it’s something you get used to. But it’s dangerous because you can get used to it to the point where you’re out there and it doesn’t bother you.
I was always on the go, because I had to make money to somehow get drugs and drink. After going in and out of prison I thought ‘hang on a minute, a couple more steps on this path and I’m going to be in the ground.’ So I thought it was time to turn it around and sort my life out.
N: I have a few recollections of that time, of meeting someone who was in a very difficult situation. But, I was really inspired, actually, by how committed you were to change things around… Pretty soon an opportunity to go look at a flat came up, and I remember you were so used to things going wrong, weren’t you?
G: Right, yeah.
N: You were so used to things going wrong that I felt a lot of pressure … because I wanted it to feel like things could change for you. I managed to find you for the viewing of your flat – that was one of the first things we did together… Did you like the flat from the get go?
G: Straight away, yeah.
N: Yeah, I knew the answer to that question before I asked it! And after that you wanted to get some support didn’t you? Some treatment.
G: I wanted to go into rehab.
N: How long had you been asking to go to rehab, Gary?
G: Over a year. And it just kept bouncing off and bouncing off and they kept saying ‘you’re going to lose the opportunity’. And I said ‘why would I nominate myself to go into rehab only to turn my back on it or just fail?’… I’m not a person that fails in life. When I put my head to something I come out on top. Every time.
N: I had to go to a panel to appeal, and you made it easy for me, funnily enough, because you had shown me your commitment, and so I knew you wanted it. And we were successful, you got the opportunity to go to rehab. I had to come find you again to get you there, but we got there. And then after that you got the furniture didn’t you? For your place.
G: Yeah, I got that silver thing, that two-seater.
N: How have things changed since we started working together?
G: I don’t take drugs anymore, I can’t stand the sight of drink, I’ve got a beautiful flat and I’m a little bit healthier.
N: It’s inspiring to see how much you’ve achieved in such a sort amount of time… what challenges are you facing now?
G: I’m still on medication, I just want to feel well and normal and not be dependent on anything at all.
N: What worked for you in helping you to end your homelessness?
G: Having someone that understood me and cared about me and for me to know that. At the end of the day, it comes down to one thing when you’re fresh off the street. It comes down to trust.
N: Well I want to say that’s it all down to you and your hard work that’s meant that you’re sitting down here today.
G: I know that, but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you. You were a big part of it, a very big part. You made it happen.
The SIB model allows us to work intensively and creatively with people like Gary so they can finally leave homelessness behind for good.
Our 50 year history is filled with some extraordinary people. To mark our anniversary, we will be profiling 50 Lives throughout 2019 – a snapshot of those who have played their part in our story. You can read the stories on our website at www.mungos.org/50-lives.