After family tragedy, Krishna had to leave home at a young age. Eventually he was referred to St Mungo’s, where he quickly found ways to get involved in the organisation. Through our Outside In project he rebuilt his confidence and his life. This is his story.
I was born in Archway, North London, in 1986 but my parents were originally from Kathmandu in Nepal. When I was 14 I lost my father to stress and alcohol. My mother was disabled; she was paralysed from the back down.
After my father’s funeral, I started to notice the strain on my family. Eventually my mother was put into a care home. I would’ve been put into foster care, but by that time I was nearly 18, so it would’ve been too late.
Camden Council got in contact with social services to put me into youth accommodation. From then on I was living from hostel to hostel. Sometimes the place I was living in would be nice, but there was nothing to do. I’d just stare at four walls all day. I felt like giving up.
One day I got a call from Camden Housing about a vacancy which had popped up with an organisation called St Mungo’s and the following week I moved into Endsleigh Gardens.
The first question I asked was “Is there anything for me to do?” because I was sick and tired of doing nothing. My support worker’s reply was, “We have an activity called Outside In for clients to get their voice heard throughout the organisation.” As he was telling me about it I decided to take the risk.
Since then I’ve been involved in lots of different things. I’ve helped to run surgeries and the Client Festival, been on 15 interview panels, been to Directors’ meetings with Outside In, joined diversity networks and written case studies about the organisation.
As the years went by there was a new idea called the Recovery College, which was a project for clients to try new things and improve their literacy and numeracy skills. I was part of the welcoming committee, and then I asked my coordinator if I could work as a volunteer receptionist.
Through another charity I had an idea, which they agreed to, which was for me to help run a movie night for clients from across St Mungo’s. My movie nights were a success showing various films and talking about them. On two occasions some special guests came to talk about a film they were in.
I enjoyed running movie nights but had to think about what I wanted to do afterwards. When I told everyone that I was leaving Outside In and the Recovery College, it was hard, but I managed to keep it together. People understood it was a sacrifice but acknowledged that I needed to move on. However, it wasn’t a big loss because I became a volunteer with St Mungo’s Volunteer Services just before Christmas 2018.
I was an Outside In volunteer for over seven years and have seen a lot of positivity. When I first joined I hardly spoke to anyone. I was very nervous, not a social person. When we started visiting projects, I wouldn’t want to go. I felt that I was a lot lower than normal people. My confidence was knocked to the ground. Completely knocked.
Because my trust was knocked too, I thought St Mungo’s was going to be the same as everywhere else I’d been. But I found that people were just like me here. People were in the same boat as I was. I got my confidence back, my self-esteem, I improved my listening skills and learnt what empathy meant.
Before I was staring at four walls. Now I need to do something. I need to be out. I’ve even got my own place now for the first time. Ever since I got my confidence back, life is just like that.
It felt good to have that proper responsibility. When I take on these responsibilities, they’re important because what I do is for everyone. At Outside In they trusted me and recognised that I can do things. And I’ve done them without a hiccup.
What I’m trying to do with my 50 Lives story is to show other clients to take the risk because you don’t know what’s on the other side. I want to show people ‘Look, you don’t have to spend your life living in a hostel. There is a chance of moving into your own place, getting some employment, doing some volunteering.’
I took the risk with Outside In, and I think it’s really, really paid off – big time.
This is a group that’s open to all St Mungo’s clients. Outside In is made up of people who live in our accommodation or use services and who work in partnership with St Mungo’s to use their voices, skills, talents and strengths to improve our services.
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.