Jim grew up with an alcoholic father and, aged just eight, lost his elder brother to leukaemia. Following her son’s death, Jim’s mother had a breakdown and his father left.
Jim’s mum ended up in an abusive relationship and eventually the whole family – his two brothers, his baby sister and his mum – had no choice but to move into a domestic violence shelter to escape. Jim was issued a care order at the age of nine and recalls how during these early years he began to struggle with depression, faced with a stepdad who “was into drinking, hitting women and hitting kids”.
At 17, Jim’s care order finished and he was given just £35 to start a new life on his own. The lack of support meant that rather than finding a place of his own and getting a job, Jim became homeless and slept rough for many years, travelling the country and sheltering where he could.
“Without their help I would have overdosed”.
After years struggling to cope with drug addiction and ill health, Jim met three St Mungo’s project workers who helped him to start to rebuild his life. The team worked closely with Jim for months and after years of rough sleeping he finally moved into a flat at a St Mungo’s project earlier this year.
“I didn’t use the bed for 5 or 6 months.”
Initially Jim slept on the floor because he had gotten so used to sleeping outside.
Jim is in recovery and enjoying life in his new accommodation, “I can get peace and quiet here…it feels like home”. Day by day, Jim is making changes for the better. He has signed up to a training course to volunteer with St Mungo’s to help other people in recovery. When asked what would have happened without St Mungo’s, Jim has no hesitation saying:
“I’d be dead by now. Guaranteed.”
After 34 years on and off the streets, Jim has turned his life around. Many others haven’t been so lucky.
If you’d like to help people like Jim leave homelessness behind, find out how at mungos.org/donate.