Lisa and Fang

Lisa has always struggled with her mental health. The lack of support she received led to her losing her home. She moved from hostel to hostel and eventually got her own flat, but she still felt rudderless. Until one day, she found a stray cat on her walk home from the shops, and things started to change.

“I never imagined I would become homeless. I had a good job. I went on holidays. I lived with my partner in a big rented house with a car on the drive. And then one day, it was all gone.

I’ve always struggled with my mental health. I was originally diagnosed with bipolar and began drinking heavily in an attempt to cope with the way I was feeling. Things soon began to spiral out of control. My mental health affected my relationship with my partner and my job. I lost them both, and I had to give up my home.

I went to stay with my family, and at first, things seemed a bit better. But I was still really struggling with my mental health and I didn’t have any support. Eventually, my family decided that they couldn’t cope with my erratic behaviour and drinking and told me to leave. I was officially homeless.

From that point things are a bit of a blur. I ended up in a psychiatric unit where I was given a further diagnosis of emotionally unstable personality disorder (also sometimes referred to as borderline personality disorder).

Suddenly I had something to focus on. Looking after him became my purpose.

When I left the psychiatric unit I had nowhere to go. It was scary. I was bounced about between bed and breakfasts, shared housing and finally a homelessness hostel. In the end I managed to get my own little flat but I was still drinking and had no sense of purpose. That was until I met Fang.

I was walking back from the shop one day when I saw him asleep in the grass. His fur was mottled, he had bald patches and green gunky eyes. I called a vet and he went away with their rescue team.

Once the vets had finished with him he didn’t have anywhere to go, just like me when I left the psychiatric unit. I didn’t want a cat. I don’t even like cats. But he didn’t have anyone else, so I took him back to mine.

Back then he was an angry, odd little thing. That’s why I called him Fang – it suited his personality. I got him a big box of cat food and he spent his first few months sitting on top of it, hissing at me if I came too close. It was as if he was scared that someone would come and take the food away from him.


His Name is Fang

His name is Fang – because when I found him he was angry at the world.

He was sick. He was sleeping outside, alone in the rain.

He hated everyone and everything.

I hated everyone and everything.

When I found him I had just moved out of a homeless hostel.

I’ve always had animals – dogs – never a cat.

It was the last thing I wanted or needed while I was trying to heal myself.

But, he needed a home; and I finally had one.

He gives me a reason to get up, even when I’m struggling.

He’s slowly learning to love and to trust, which is a joy to see.

He makes me laugh.

Sometimes his situation reminds me a little of my own.

I’ve been homeless, I’ve struggled. Now we both have a place to call home.

And I often wonder, who found who?


He soon settled in, and he seemed so happy to have a home.  A little too happy! He refused to go outside for ages.  And even though I took him in for his sake rather than mine, I felt happier too. Having him around had sparked a change in me.

“Suddenly I had something to focus on. I had to give him his medication, clean his litter tray and make sure I was around to feed him. Looking after him became my purpose.”

It was around the time I found Fang that St Mungo’s came into my life.  Although I was much happier than I had been, I was overwhelmed by the idea of getting my affairs in order: rent, bills, universal credit.

It sounds silly, but one of the first things my St Mungo’s caseworker,  Andrea did was help me to get an iron. It had been over a year since I’d been able to iron my clothes and I’d given up wearing anything nice. To most people that probably sounds like a small thing, but to me it was huge.

Andrea has also put me back in touch with other services that are helping me in my recovery, including alcohol services. Together we’ve started to look for courses I can study so that I can start getting myself back on track.

Without Andrea, I don’t know if I could have coped. I may have found myself homeless again.  And so would Fang.”

Interested in finding out more about St Mungo’s services? Look at what we do to help people experiencing homelessness or in recovery.