I was so happy to go to somewhere where it was warm and they gave me hot food.
Shazad moved into one of our supported homes in July 2017, after staying in the shelter and then briefly in a hostel. He shared about his journey and what it is like to have this support:
“I was stressed, I didn’t know a way out.”
Shazad had a family trauma, coupled with the loss of his job that led him to, in his words, “hitting rock bottom.” “I was stressed. I didn’t know a way out. I had a breakdown . . . it was so difficult for me to actually get out of my bed for like 6 months . . . Everything in my life sort of caught up with me and it made me fall down.”
“A little bit of hope”
Shazad stayed in the NEWway shelter in Newham before coming to GrowTH in Tower Hamlets. He remembers his first night at NEWway clearly: “it was on a Sunday, and I was walking and it was raining and I had holes in my trainers, and my socks got wet. I was so happy to go to somewhere where it was warm and they gave me hot food.” They gave him new shoes and he was encouraged by the stories of other guests, because “everyone’s in the same boat.” He appreciated the prayers said for him: “the pastor done a little prayer, just to give us a little bit of hope, it was nice.”
Shazad stayed in both NEWway and GrowTH, both church-run shelters in East London. It was not all easy. Shazad left GrowTH early, having “anxiety problems and . . . flashbacks of certain situations in life.” When Shazad went back to sofa surfing, his Advocate Worker, Matt, kept in touch with him. Matt secured an interview for Shazad with a local hostel and soon Shazad had successfully moved in. “I was so happy that I got a roof over my head at the time and the first week I was there I slept for a week. I needed to recharge my batteries.”
Shazad began a DIY course and started volunteering with another homelessness project, yet he was struggling to settle into the hostel. His flatmate could be quite aggressive and Shazad had heard about GrowTH’s supported houses. Wonderfully a space became available in one of the supported homes and Shazad was able to move in!
“He just gave me time.”
Shazad appreciates the support the GrowTH staff give in the homes. Reflecting on their support in the shelter he shared that “Paul and Matt were . . . professional . . . very sympathetic, I thought they listened more than anything . . . both of them gave me a lot of hope.” He describes his Advocate Worker Matt as “like my counsellor, my brother, a friend, and a support worker all in one. Very rare to find, a lot of people don’t give you that time . . . He just gave me that little bit of time.”
For the next year we will support Shazad in progressing forward in life. Shazad is also planning ahead: “This time next year I want to get back into boxing . . . I haven’t trained for about two years since I became homeless.”