John’s story

For the first time in years I feel safe again.

When lockdown began in the UK, John* found himself in a difficult situation and needed support to help him survive. With the support of our Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch outreach team, he has been able to self-isolate in safety and comfort.

I’d been living in my car for three and half years. It was initially just meant to be for a few weeks, but it went on for a bit longer than expected.

The first thing I noticed when lockdown started was that the gym was shut. I had been using the gym to do some training, have a shower every morning, and to charge up my USB battery for the day. The gym closing was a big problem for me. I had to start cycling for miles to use the public showers on the beach in the middle of March, which is definitely something I wouldn’t recommend to anybody!

When all the cafes and fast food places shut down, I had nowhere to use the internet. That meant I couldn’t do my daily job searches or log in to my universal credit. Everything was shutting down around me.

A world that was already quite difficult was starting to become impossible.

I’d always refused help before. A few days into lockdown Christian, an outreach worker, came and spoke to me. He spoke to me with such decency and respect it just changed something for me. He offered me a room in a B&B and I moved in the next day.

My life changed overnight. Having plugs and taps was a bit of a novelty! There’s a big bed in the middle of the room. At the moment I’m still finding it hard to sleep – I’ve been sleeping rough for so long and it takes time to adjust – but I’m working on that, I know it will come.

For the first time in years I feel safe again. When you’re living on the streets, safety never really comes into it.

I’m a musician – a guitar player and singer. For the first time in years I can pick up my guitar and play when I want for as long as I want. I’m even writing songs again, which I just couldn’t do when I was sleeping rough.

For someone who’d been on the streets for so long this has just been amazing. There is help there. There are people there who can help you get off the streets, and they’ve definitely done it with me.

Things are looking good now. I feel a lot more positive that there’s a good future for me.

Thousands of people who were sleeping rough are now safely self-isolating in hotels during the coronavirus pandemic. But this was only a temporary fix. That’s why we launched our No Going Back campaign to call on the Government to ensure no one would be forced back on to the streets. Read more about the campaign.