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Alex's story. A father trying to maintain his family while living in a tent.

09.08.2017 3454 XX

"I was married for 14 years. 2 kids. Then my wife woke up one morning and said she no longer loved me. I tried to fight and beg. I asked if she wanted to go to counselling but in the end I had to admit defeat.

I didn’t know anyone else in Croydon. My dad couldn’t pick me up because he’s 65 and lives in sheltered housing and I couldn’t put that on him. So I ended up sleeping in a tent for 3 or 4 weeks.

I could have stayed in my marital home. But it would have made the atmosphere toxic and I couldn’t do that to the family.

I came out of school with nothing. Work wise I’ve always been drifting, kind of dead end jobs. Road sweeping, dustman, working in customer service, then as a house husband for five years, raising the kids.

That first step is the hardest. To acknowledge that you’re homeless. That was really hard to admit to myself.

My boy's 9, my daughter's 13. So they’re both at that age when they’ve got a mind of their own and they know what’s going on. I see them pretty regularly, every weekend, especially now in the summer holidays. I speak to them twice a week, see them every Sunday. I take them out and have kick around, feed the ducks, take them to Dulwich park.

They feel really powerless because they can see what’s happened to me, but at the same time they’re kids, what can they do? I try to explain to them the best I can that it’s not their fault. I look forward to every Sunday. But when it comes to letting them go. That’s massive. It’s really hard.

I just want to get through and accept how things are right now. Not to dwell on the past, just think about my future. You have to keep yourself busy, make yourself noticed, make yourself seen that you want to help yourself for people to help you. It’s not too bleak. It’s not going to be any worse than it is right now, things are going to get better."

Alex, Croydon 

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