Lee is 55 and lives at Hilldrop, one of our specialist care services for people who have experienced homelessness.
Before being supported by St Mungo’s, Lee slept rough and struggled to find food.
“It had its ups and its downs, good days and bad days. When the weather was good it was tolerable but when it snowed or there was torrential rain, getting dry was a real difficulty, waking up in the sleeping bag all wet. You just have to sit there, it’s all you can do.
It’s hard work walking past restaurants and people are eating while you’re starving, you’ve had nothing to eat for three days. I used to get handouts sometimes. On a Sunday there was one in Waterloo, they’d give you mince and potatoes. That was good. But some of the places I didn’t like to go to. People can get really nasty over food, fighting over it.”
He was later supported by St Mungo’s Tenancy Sustainment Team, who tried to help him maintain his own flat. But he struggled to look after himself, and needed more support.
“I’ve been off the streets for a couple of years now. I had my own flat until things got on top of me. I got depressed, really depressed. There were all the bills and I didn’t know what to do with them. I wasn’t eating or sleeping, just getting as many drugs inside me as I could, it was all I was living for.”
Lee struggled to feed himself, and had frequent hospitalisations. He knew he needed more support, and was then referred to the Hilldrop team.
He came to Hilldrop after being in hospital after a fall, caused by tremors in his arms and legs. He said just before the fall, he had been struggling to eat.
“I ended up in hospital in a bad way. I was really ill. I didn’t realise how sick I was until they told me. I slipped into a coma. I was in hospital for two and a half months learning how to walk again, getting the energy to walk.”
Since being at Hilldrop his health has really improved and he hasn’t needed any more hospitalisations. He’s also managed to recover from his drug addiction.
“I’m stable now. I’m not doing drugs so my health has improved. I’m eating and sleeping more regularly. It’s a relief to know I’ve got somewhere stable. I’ve got support and help if I need it.
My medication, I didn’t take it before I came here. That’s how I managed my medication before, I didn’t take it. Just drugs, it was just a waste of everything. Staff here looking after my medication is a god-send for me.”
His eating has also improved, as he now has people to prepare his meals, and make sure he’s eating enough.
“Having food now means a hell of a lot to me. I’m not a big eater but it’s all provided. We’ve got a good cook, good food. She looks after us. I’m not quite as scrawny now.”
Hilldrop is one of two specialist care services run by St Mungo’s for people who have experienced homelessness. We recently launched a review into care provision for people who have experienced homelessness, hoping to start a sector-wide conversation, leading to collaboration and change.