Page 17 Paul-min What were things like before GrowTH? “Absolutely desperate. I was facing my own destruction and a total collapse on my life. That is what it felt like.” Paul had been sleeping rough in London for about a year after leaving Cambridge. “It is not a nice feeling. People around you are getting on with their jobs, families and lives, but you are homeless. It feels disastrous.”

“I did feel that at last I had come to a chance to get help. I felt a bit more secure because I had somewhere to stay, meals, people to talk to and a good night’s sleep.” After a week of proper food cooked by volunteers Paul says: “I was shocked to see I had actually put on weight!” A volunteer who was cutting guests’ hair gave Paul a trim and Paul says, “It took seven years off my age. I thought, ‘crikey!’” Five months on At GrowTH, Paul was able to secure a place in supported housing. After being homeless for so long he says the first few months of being in secure accommodation left him feeling “dazzled” and it took him a while to “come to terms with it.” “The mindset of being homeless is completely different” he says. Now more settled in his new place, Paul is planning for the future. He says he wants to start a business: “that is the main focus now.”

Sitting with a cup of coffee in his new local area, we asked Paul what he’d like to say to readers on the back of his experience. He responded, “Just the importance of not looking down on those that are homeless. Let them get on with things [and if you can], help them in some way through charities.”

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