Winston’s story

Winston, aged 44, and part of the Windrush Generation, is a member of the Bristol Recovery College running club. In 2008 he applied for a driving licence and realised he didn’t exist. In his own words Winston tells us how the Recovery College has made him feel safe and given him a sense of self-worth.

“I was 18 months old when I came to England from Jamaica in 1966. I was part of what is now known as the Windrush generation.

I’m of the Windrush generation

We moved here for a better life. I came over with my father, my mother had moved over earlier as she was pregnant with my younger brother at the time. We were full of hope. There were a lot of adjustments to make, the climate for one, coping with hostility.

I grew up in Birmingham until 1994. My parents separated and my dad went back to Jamaica. I grew up with my mum but I felt the lack of extended family. At the age of six I was run over and fractured my skull. After my recovery I went to a boarding school.

I was told I didn’t exist

In 2008 I applied for a driving licence. I didn’t have all the documents; a passport. I was told I didn’t exist. When I discovered I didn’t have any legal papers I felt afraid. I took jobs that didn’t ask too many questions and I moved about a lot. I moved to Bristol in 2013. I was homeless and lived in the Salvation Army hostel. I discovered St Mungo’s and joined the Recovery College running club.

It’s made me realise I am not alone. The running club gives me self-worth and something to look forward to. I had isolated myself and was living a fearful life. Brexit has made me feel embarrassed and isolated. I worried I would be deported to Jamaica – a place that didn’t know me and one that I no longer belonged in. But with support from friends at St Mungo’s, I found the courage to contact the Home Office. I now have my papers and I feel safe.

More intervention work is needed

I think a lot of issues to do with homelessness nowadays is because people are being forced into poverty, I think more intervention work needs to be done with people before they fall into the trap of homelessness.

People need to feel able to come forward to confront these issues without feeling embarrassed or shame. As a person from the Windrush scandal I believe that certain issues do need more community awareness and understanding so that people can learn the lessons and ensure they don’t happen again. Aftercare is a big factor in healing from homelessness.”

Bristol Recovery College is a pioneering, inclusive learning programme, based on the principle that learning can be a transformative experience. Set in our New Street Hub, in the heart of St Jude’s, we offer a safe, inclusive and creative learning space underpinned by our recovery service ethos. All our courses are free and designed, delivered and attended by St Mungo’s clients, staff and volunteers. Courses are also open to the general public.

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.