Getting Sam’s spark back

Sam was forced to leave home when he was a teenager. He slept on the streets of London for eight months before getting a place in a hostel, where he came into contact with St Mungo’s. Now, Sam is living in his own flat and working as an apprentice.

2 July 2007 is a day I’ll never forget. It was the day my Dad told me not to come home again. My life sort of spiralled out of control after that.

I was born in London but adopted by a couple in Manchester. They brought me up and they were Mum and Dad to me. They adopted three other children too, my brothers and sisters.

The Christmas before my Dad told me to leave, my Mum had cried and said that all she wanted was a baby, in front of me and her other adopted children. She couldn’t have children naturally. I don’t think the four of us were ever really enough for her.

Being kicked out had a big impact on my mental health. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was unwanted. I used to tell people that my parents had died rather than tell the truth.

One afternoon, I got on a bus to London with no real plans. When I arrived I found someone who was homeless and asked them where I could shower and charge my phone. They told me about a daycentre but it was already evening, so I just slept around the back under some scaffolding.

That first night on the streets was awful, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. All I had was a blanket and it was really cold. I was awake most of the night – afraid of being stabbed or something.

When I was homeless, there was a spark in me that died. I’m a happy person but when I was on the streets I felt numb.

Over time I got to know people on the streets and ended up sleeping in a group of six. We took it in turns to stay up to keep an eye out for each other. I met the nicest people when I was homeless but also some of the worst.

There was one woman who asked me once if she could get me anything and I told her I quite fancied a banana. She came back with a whole bunch of bananas for me almost every day after that. It’s people like that that brighten your day; people who just talk to you like you’re human. But they definitely weren’t all like that – some people were awful. Someone threw a drink at me for no reason. I had things stolen. Three people held me at knifepoint once.

After eight months of sleeping rough, an outreach worker told me she’d got me a bed in a hostel and a grant for some new clothes. That first night inside was the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had – going from concrete to a mattress, I slept like a baby. From there I moved into a flat where I was supported by St Mungo’s.

When I was homeless, there was a spark in me that died. I’m a happy person but when I was on the streets I felt numb. The staff at St Mungo’s didn’t make me feel like a “client” or a “resident”, they treated me as a human. They’d encourage me to come out of my flat to go to events. I could talk to them about anything, and have a laugh and a joke. They helped me get my spark back.

St Mungo’s had a plan to help me move into my own place, but when I told them I wanted to move up North near my brothers and sisters they helped me do that instead.

They sorted all my medication and even helped me with moving, which I never could have done on my own. 

In May I started my new job. I’m an apprentice in the Civil Service, assisting a senior member of staff. The job centre put me forward for it but I never thought I would get it. I beat 192 people to the job – I couldn’t believe it when they told me. Now that I have a proper salary I might get a new car, and move into a bigger flat in a few months too. It all feels a bit surreal.

The best thing about being back up here though is living near my brothers and sisters. I know you shouldn’t have favourites in your family, but I absolutely adore my niece – she’s so clever and funny. She was born on 2 July 2018 and it’s given that day a whole new meaning for me. 2 July used to be a day when I would remember being thrown out by my parents and look back at all the negatives of the past. Now it’s a day that reminds me of everything I have now, and everything I’ve overcome. It makes me excited for the future

Interested in reading more of our client’s stories? Read Metkel’s story next here.