In the beginning of 2012 Richard made a decision to give up 19 years of working for a removals company to permanently care for his mother and move into her flat. In July 2012, however, his mother had an accident that left her in hospital for 12 weeks and in September 2012 she sadly passed away. Since Richard was unofficially living at his mother’s flat, he was immediately asked to leave with nowhere secure to go to.
Totally Soul destroying”
Although Richard was able to stay with a few friends here and there for a couple of months, by February 2013, he was officially homeless. “You feel guilty asking friends all the time” he said, “there is only so much you can put them through.” When asking him about his experience of being homeless he said, “on top of my mother dying it was horrible, totally soul destroying and a very lonely time.” Richard often slept in a tent in Manor Park and in 2017 an incident there led him to finally getting the support he needed. “One day some youths who were drinking started throwing rocks at my tent and being verbally abusive to me”, he told me. Richard managed to keep them away but they left threatening to come back and burn his tent with him inside. That same day when Richard returned to his tent in the evening, he found it lying in the river along with his sleeping bag. Calling the only contact he knew who might be able to help, they put him in touch with the Whitechapel Mission.
“What a godsend”
Richard was referred to GrowTH by Sonia at the Whitechapel Mission. He said this of Sonia: “Sonia was an absolute diamond . . . such a lovely person with the patience of a saint . . . I really want to say thank you to her!” In recalling his first night in the shelter he said, “What a relief! Knowing that I didn’t have to think about where I was going to sleep that night or about my safety was a huge weight off my mind . . . I could now focus on other things”. “The shelter” he said, “really was a God-send . . . such a wonderful environment with great food and people.” In fact the food at the shelter was so good he said “I put on a stone while there . . . I even had three helpings one night because it was so good!”
Once Richard was registered, we began to apply for various accommodations and it became something of a waiting game. Each morning Richard would ask the Advocate Worker whether we had heard any news. He was finally given two interviews and was accepted for both. “The support I received from the Advocate Workers was brilliant” he stated, “it gave me hope.”
A great rest stop
Five years on from his last permanent accommodation, Richard is finally able to “breathe” living somewhere that is secure. That said, Richard sees this as a “great ‘rest stop’” and with the help of his new support worker, he hopes to find a place where he can settle down more permanently and call home. He ends with these words:
“GrowTH have done me a huge favour, I don’t know where I’d be without them . . . looking out of my window now and seeing the rain, I’m so thankful that I’m not out there now . . . Thank you all so much!”