At 24, I went to prison for four years for fraud. It was a guy in prison who finally taught me to read. He was getting these books and he’d test me on them – if I got it wrong I had to do press-ups. We turned prison into a learning experience. I left feeling hopeful for the future.
But five years ago everything changed. I lost my partner, my mum, my dad, and my eldest brother. I couldn’t deal with the grief – I buried myself in drugs.
Seven months later I was evicted from my home and all my belongings were dumped in a skip. It’s a big shock, the vulnerability and loneliness of being homeless. It’s a strain on every part of your body 24 hours a day.
I’d often walk past restaurants and see the warmth and laughter inside. Even though it’s right there in front of you, it feels like you’re looking in on another world. That kind of life seemed a million miles away.
“It’s a big shock feeling the vulnerability and loneliness of homelessness. It’s a strain on every part of your body 24 hours a day.”
One winter, I was in a tent in snow about 12 inches deep and I couldn’t get dry. Then a guy from St Mungo’s saw me and gave me a sandwich.
That moment changed everything. St Mungo’s took me in and I found warmth, kindness and security. They helped me deal with my grief and get back on my feet. With the support I am getting at St Mungo’s I know I can stay off the drugs.
The most amazing part is that I’ve got into university to study psychology and criminology, which is something I never dreamed I’d be able to do.
I want to work helping kids and young adults who are going down the same road I did. For the first time in my life, I believe in myself. I feel really strong.
Interested in reading more of our client’s stories? Read Dale’s story next here.