I had my own flat from 2011 until 2014, when I was evicted. I was being paid Housing Benefit directly and spending it – I had no budgeting skills whatsoever.
I was spending my Housing Benefit because I was hooked on Spice [synthetic cannabinoids]. I was smoking it all the time for about three years, up until the end of 2015. I was smoking it before I lost my flat – back in the days when it was still being sold in head shops.
Whilst homeless, I would go to day centres, get some breakfast and have a shower. Some day centres give out food parcels so you can take some away. Opposite Charing Cross station there’s a food van that comes.
My life for two or three years was sleeping rough, begging and day centres.
Then, I was sleeping in Piccadilly for a while and I got an infection. A member of the public rang up StreetLink, who connected me to an Outreach Team, and then on to the Connexions hostel. The people at the hostel got worried and, while trying to sort my health problems, referred me to the St Mungo’s Harrow Road hostel where I now live. I was accepted for a place within a week!
I think it’s brilliant here. The meals are good, staff are brilliant – I absolutely love it here.
While I’ve been here, I’ve done an alcohol recovery course – to help others quit alcohol, not for myself – and I’ve done a First Aid course. Thankfully I’ve not had to put anyone in the recovery position!
They run a ‘Time Credit’ system here. Do a job for an hour and earn a credit, which can be spent on trips like going to the cinema or a day out.
St Mungo’s has been really helpful with all the basics. Things like getting a passport, a new bank account, a citizen’s card, all that.
I’ll be starting at St Mungo’s Recovery College soon. So I’ll be going to college and learning every week. Getting skills up, building my CV, and getting some experience. I have no idea what I actually want to do. I spend a lot of my time here watching TV or on the computer, so maybe I’d like to learn something computer-based.
This, for me though, is temporary accommodation. I should be moving to a clearing house soon, which is semi-supported living. It’s your own flat, rather than just a room, usually. It’ll be a shame to leave Harrow Road.
I’d recommend using St Mungo’s. If anyone else was in my situation and they had the chance to be involved with St Mungo’s I’d definitely tell them to go for it. The experience would change their lives.