Five years ago, John was sleeping rough on the streets of Manchester, hooked on drugs and with little hope for the future. Now, after getting support from Housing First, he’s got his own flat, a new job and plenty to look forward to.
John’s story is similar to that of many other young men who lose everything and find themselves on the streets. His once-stable life turned into chaos when his drug habit got out of control and he became estranged from his family.
More problems followed when John was convicted and given a community sentence but ended up in prison because he repeatedly breached the terms of his sentence. His life became a cycle of prison stays, rough sleeping and drug abuse.
John had spells living in temporary housing but was often asked to leave because of his drug use and missed rent payments.
In August 2020, he was referred to Greater Manchester Housing First (GMHF). He was once again living in temporary accommodation when his GMHF support worker met him for the first time.
His support worker said:
“John was very open and honest about his past, and I found him easy to talk to – so we got off to a good start. As time went on, we talked about the consequences of his offending behaviour and substance abuse, and his hopes for the future. He saw my support as a good thing and wanted a better life with a home of his own”.
A property became available, and John moved into his new flat in October 2020 and chose to spend most of his personalisation fund on good-quality carpets and curtains, rather than furniture.
His Support Worker added: “John takes pride in his home. He keeps it clutter free and having less furniture suits him. He also used some of his personalisation fund money to buy a bike. This has proved to be a good investment. The bike has not only saved him money on travel costs, but has also helped with his mental wellbeing.”
Keen to have some structure to his day, John began volunteering for a local homelessness charity. He impressed them so much that, last year, they offered him paid, part-time work. John gets a lot of satisfaction from helping others. And, through the job, he’s made new friends and his confidence has grown.
Even though he might drink from time to time, John’s now got his substance abuse under control. His Support Worker explained: “We’ve had some good conversations about his using, and he knows what it can lead to.
"Nowadays, he’s better at managing himself and he continues to make progress. He’s now completed his probation period and is re-building his relationship with his mum. He says he feels less of a let-down to her now.”
Just recently, John graduated from the Housing First programme and is looking forward to the next chapter in his life. “John’s come a long way in a relatively short time, and I’m so proud of him,” adds his Support Worker. “Now, we need to work out the best way to commemorate his success!”