Kevin’s Story

Kevin grew up in Highgate in London, he started taking drugs at a young age and became homeless after he was evicted from his flat.

“I grew up in Highgate in London. People are sometimes surprised to hear that because it’s known as being a really expensive, exclusive area – Kate Moss and Jude Law both live there. There’s only one council estate, and that was where I lived.

I started taking drugs when I was quite young, about 16 or 17. I used to hang out with these guys on the estate and we’d smoke weed, take speed, just mess around.

It was just supposed to be a bit of fun, but it messed up my life for a long time. I’ve since been diagnosed with psychosis. I get these impulses that come into my body, they speed my heart up and slow it down.

I became homeless when I was evicted from a flat I used to live in. I’d fallen out with the neighbours who lived above me and, one day, someone came along and told me I had to leave that same day. I went to Islington homelessness services and they said there was nothing they could do for me.

So I slept on the streets, at first round the back of Morrison’s and then under a bridge in Muswell Hill. Simple, everyday things feel impossible when you’re homeless.

I used to get a bottle of water when I could and shave in car wing mirrors. One guy caught me one day and got really angry with me. He shouted, “What are you doing looking in my wing mirror?” and I explained to him that I was homeless. He just said, “Go and do it in someone else’s mirror.” He was angry; I understand. People don’t trust you when you’re homeless. Being homeless took a big toll on my mental health.

After two years sleeping rough, I managed to get a room through Haringey homelessness services, but it didn’t work out because I was so unwell. I got sectioned and went to hospital for three months.

When I came out I was put in a hostel for a while – that’s when people from St Mungo’s came to see me and they managed to get me into a flat of my own. I’ve been in this new flat for six months now. It’s so much better than being in shared rooms because you have your own life, the freedom to do your own thing.

I’ve made friends with one of the neighbours here and he’s got a little dog. Toni, my support worker, meets me for coffee and a chat once or twice a week and we speak on the phone most days. Toni’s great.

She takes the time to understand me and she knows how I operate. I find it much easier to talk to her than to anyone else. Having my own place makes me feel motivated to get better, to do more with my life.

If I can get rid of this illness I want to do some voluntary work. I used to volunteer years ago with disabled people, helping them with disability claims and things like that, and I worked in a care home for a while too. I’d like to do something like that again.”

Simple, everyday things feel impossible when you’re homeless

kevin and toni

Working with Kevin made me a better person

“Before I started this job, I thought it would be really tough because of my preconceptions about homeless people. And at the beginning it was tough because I put too much pressure on my clients.

If someone wasn’t doing what I asked of them, I would think: I’m working so hard, why won’t they do the right thing? But now I know that the key to this job is allowing people to make their own choices.

Only when you really treat someone as an equal can you build the kind of trusting relationship that I have with Kevin. It’s those relationships which ultimately support people to recover.

Obviously it’s also important to maintain professional boundaries, but I think it’s great that we can get along like friends. Sometimes we can even be a bit like an old married couple! He’ll be choosing a kettle for his flat and I’ll be saying, “hmm… don’t you think this one would look better in your kitchen?” and then we battle it out for a bit.

Kevin always says how lucky he is that we get on so well which is really sweet. But I don’t think it’s luck. I firmly believe that you attract the energy you give out, and Kevin is such a kind person, he’s just finally getting what he deserves.”

Toni, Kevin’s Support Worker

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