For Ankar this was not the first time he had been homeless, in fact homelessness began at a very young age. “I was homeless at the age of 15. I was kicked out of the house by my brother. I use to go out all the time, mixing with the wrong people, I ended up going to prison. Afterwards I moved around different hostels. This time I was homeless because the landlord wanted to get rid of me ‘cos they wanted to rebuild the house. The council told me they can’t help me. I was homeless for 2 days I was walking around in Aldgate, hopeless. It was very cold and then I went to see Sonia [at the Whitechapel Mission] and she helped me go to GrowTH”.
When you are homeless you spend all your time and energy finding your next meal and somewhere safe to sleep, simply trying to survive. For Ankar it was similar “I was relieved to get off the street and finding out they had a shower and toilets – it was like a home basically. My favourite thing was it was somewhere to stay, a safety net. I knew I was going somewhere to sleep that night the food was there and the people were lovely, you felt like there was a safety net, you’ve got somewhere to go.”
“I was living with 15 other people, I enjoyed it, it was nice because I was lonely, you get company. I had never been to church in my life and it was a nice experience and you meet other people in a similar situation as you are. Its a lonely time when your homeless, it was the first time in my life I got to live with other people.” Move to the countryside? Working with another organisation, Ankar was able to move off the streets and into more permanent accommodation. “They found me a place in a shared house somewhere to live. I feel great because you need a rooftop over your head, you can get your life back together”. He now has plans for a better future “I want to get a job and maybe move to the countryside and build my own life, I want to stay off welfare, I didn’t come to this country to sign on I came here to work. My plan is to tell others about what happened to me so it doesn’t happen to them.