After a decade of homelessness, 25-year-old Lee (not his real name) thought he’d never have a place of his own.
When he first engaged with Greater Manchester Housing First (GMHF), he said he was ‘one of the forgotten homeless people of Manchester’ and didn’t believe that his life could get better.
Lee’s problems began when he was 12. His parents split up and, to help him cope with the separation, he started drinking and taking drugs. By the time he was 15, he was living on the streets.
As the years went on and his addiction took hold, Lee got into crime and spent his youth in and out of prison.
He’d had help before and spent short periods living in supported accommodation but he either left or was evicted. Lee struggled to trust his support workers and often dropped in and out of support services.
When Lee’s GMHF support worker, David Royle, started working with Lee he concentrated on building his self-esteem. “Lee felt invisible like so many of the street homeless people we work with,” says David. “He felt that everyone had let him down so I gave him lots of motivational support to help him feel valued.”
When David helped Lee find a flat in Wythenshawe – an area where he wanted to live – Lee was over the moon. At last he had a place of his own, and he moved into his flat in March 2021. After furnishing it himself, Lee takes great pride in his home and has since decorated it.
Lee’s also taking steps to manage his long-standing addiction to drugs and alcohol. He meets regularly with his drug support worker and David, as part of his treatment plan.
David says: “Our approach is to work alongside other agencies to provide a holistic package of support for the homeless people we work with.
"This has proved to be successful in Lee’s case. We’ve worked with his probation officer, social worker, drug support worker and others to make sure Lee has everything in place to create a better life for himself.”
"Lee is now happier than he’s ever been. He has a home of his own, has got to know his neighbours and is taking better care of himself. His daily life now has structure and he keeps his appointments with David and his other support workers.”
Lee says his goal now is to be drug and alcohol-free and visit his family in Spain.