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Keith - a GMHF story

Keith, 43, comes from a close, loving family and was especially close to his brother whilst growing up.

However, in his teens, Keith was a victim of horrific crimes which resulted in his life quickly spiralling out of control and changed his life forever.

It was at this point that he started experimenting with drugs which resulted in an addiction to heroin which became more and more difficult to hide.

This soon led to him leaving the family home and getting into fights which led to Keith losing his temper and having run-ins with the police, culminating in several custodial sentences.

Keith was supported by The Brick who supported him to access ABEN ultimately accommodating him in a hotel where he participated in the various groups being delivered.

Living on the streets had taken its toll on Keith, he had lost considerable weight and he wasn’t in a good place. Keith is quick to stand up for/defend others which has led to him getting into altercations with other males.

In his own words Keith describes feeling like a “tightly coiled spring” with a hair trigger and when he is smoking spice the pressure only intensifies which has been the reason behind several of his convictions.

When Keith was released from prison in 2019 he was clean from substances but having no other option but to live on the streets he soon relapsed.

It was during this unsettled time he was referred to Housing First and from the very first meeting, he spoke about wanting his own place and sorting his life out.

Keith was desperate to have a fresh start and get clean from substances, he wanted to connect with his community and have somewhere to call home.

He was adamant he wanted to live far from negative influences and easy access to drugs so when a flat became available on the outskirts of his home town he asked to be considered for it.

His Housing First worker supported Keith throughout the sign up process which was made even more challenging by the pandemic and he moved in to his new home in January 2021.

His Housing First worker Tricia worked intensively with Keith, supporting him to set up and maintain a successful tenancy and he has worked hard to make his flat his home.

This year Keith is excited about spending Christmas in his flat, he has repaired his relationship with his mum and is looking forward to seeing her and the rest of his family over the festive period.

He said: “It's been a hard journey, I was homeless for quite some time but came to realise I couldn't do it on my own.

"From the moment Housing First came into my life they've supported me and encouraged me to get clean and I've been clean for 12 months in January.

"This Christmas, I can actually celebrate! I’m not on the streets, I'm in my own place with plenty of support.

"Trish goes out of her way to help me figure stuff out, she’s like my very own guardian angel.

Keith has been in his own home for almost a year and this will be his first Christmas in his own home.

His story is one of more than 300 which proves the power of the Housing First model and the Greater Manchester pilot. It also proves that together, we are making a difference.


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