‘I was extremely depressed’
A week after a gas leak in his building, Sean came home to a shock, ‘I came home one night and found myself locked out.’ This was not only a shock to Sean but all very strange. He was not warned about this and has no idea of the reasoning behind it. ‘I had a couple of phone numbers and left messages but no one got back to me… I don’t know how above board the landlord was’, Sean stated. Sean’s first instinct was to head to the police station. ‘They said there had been a gas leak but they didn’t have any details about it. I spent the rest of the night in the police station.’ As sudden as that, Sean lost all his possessions and was homeless. ‘Everything I had in the world was in that house… private papers, clothes… it wasn’t a great deal but it was personal. I’ve got one or two friends in Penge. They helped me. My mother lives in sheltered accommodation so I couldn’t stay there. I was extremely depressed!’ Sean was homeless for six nights which he spent largely on the buses. This was ‘unpleasant to say the least’, he said. Thankfully one night at Forest Hill train station, Sean noticed an advertisement for The Whitechapel Mission. He called the number and within two days he was accepted into GrowTH night shelter.
‘They were there when I needed them’
Recalling his first time in GrowTH, Sean said, ‘It was a great relief. I could have a shower and there was a hot meal… I wasn’t on my own in this.’ Sean was only in the shelter for nine nights. The day after Sean had been registered with GrowTH, his Advocate Worker Paul referred him to the QVSR hostel and four days later he was given an interview. Just two days after this, QVSR had a room available for Sean and he moved in immediately. Regarding his time in GrowTH, Sean comments, ‘They were there when I needed them and it helped me a great deal.’ He described the volunteers as ‘caring, dedicated and willing to offer support to guests.’
Off the streets, out of the shelter and into more permanent accommodation, Sean said, ‘It was a great relief… I’ve got my own “front door”’. Most recently Sean spoke of how he was coping living in a hostel during the COVID-19 lockdown: ‘They’ve got a canteen, two or three TVs. The snooker room which is very popular and the people and the staff who are very friendly… you have a chance to have some sort of communication with people.’ Once this is all over, Sean hopes to look for work and get a job.
‘I discovered GrowTH by chance – they proved that I came to the right people in every way.’