“I feel free. I feel I’m at peace with myself. I feel I’m growing spiritually every day, as I read the word of God.”
Allan’s father put him on a plane to the UK from Kenya when he was only 18. 17 years later, Allan has not been able as yet to secure legal status in the UK but naturally, feels at home here. His England football shirt hangs drying on the line as we speak.
“I think my life has changed. I just thank God that I’ve met people like you; that you made a difference in my life”.
Where it all began
Rewind to 2017 and Allan had been sleeping on the streets for a year, addicted to drugs. It’s a story that we hear sadly all too often. “I look back and can’t believe I’ve been abusing myself for that long,” he says, mulling over what could have been.
Allan’s world changed after a tragic encounter. “I had started abusing spice as well; it’s evenly more deadly than crack, than heroin.” Then he heard the news of a fellow rough sleeper who had tried the new drug. “It killed him. I heard he just collapsed and passed away. That’s the time I actually sat down and started thinking to myself, wow, I need to stop taking all this. So I decided to turn my life around.”
At the time, Allan was volunteering in a church as a cleaner. He had always known the love of Jesus but was far removed and entrenched in what he refers to as the “underground world”. Allan’s friend from the church recommended NEWway shelter to him and, later down the line, he landed in GrowTH.
A place to call home
Although grateful for the shelter respite, with no legal status Allan’s options were rapidly running out and the streets looked depressingly inevitable. However, his Advocate Worker, Naomi, had one last hope. Against the odds, Allan was offered a room in a local accommodation which provides support for those with no status. One month on and Allan is firmly settled in the house. He makes me a coffee as the house dog patters around. “I love the way they run the place. I like the freedom. I think I’ve made progress because I have overcome by the help of God many things that I used to be addicted to”.
“I feel free”
Allan has been coming back to the faith that he once knew and worshipping at East End Church. He attended the men’s weekend away and is thankful for the friendships he’s building. “I feel free. I feel I’m at peace with myself. I feel I’m growing spiritually every day, as I read the word of God. The way I interact with people, it shows me I’m on the right track.”
Allan is also excited to volunteer with GrowTH in the next season. He has plenty to reflect over but knows he is heading in the right direction. “Especially looking at my past and where I am right now, I’ve made progress, definitely. I’m just looking to make more and more progress, because progress doesn’t stop here”