Lee's story

10.11.2017 407 XX

“My mum was my rock and my soul mate. I always turned to her when I had problems. She always knew what to say and how to make me feel better. My parents split a long time ago and my dad is more into gambling than his own family. My mum was the only one I was really close to. She didn’t tell me for two years after she found out she had cancer because she didn’t want to worry me. It took another two years before she died. They let her home for Christmas because they said she wouldn’t make it past then but she did. Shortly after that she went back into hospital and passed away.

I stayed with her as much as I could while she was sick but I didn’t get on with her new partner and the house they lived in belonged to him so after she died I had to leave. I just didn’t know what to do then. My head was so messed up. I didn’t really speak to anyone for about three months. It was so bad that I got referred to the local psychiatric hospital but I worried if I went in there I’d never get out. That was when I first went on the streets.

It started off in a subway, then in doorways and then on park benches. I had some friends and family that I could stay with but they didn’t have much space so I couldn’t stay forever. I always used to speak with them though and tell them I was ok. They’d come and give me money and food but I felt so alone that I didn’t think about asking for anything else. I never begged for money or anything but sometimes people would come and give you some. I felt like I’d got myself into that situation and I should get myself out. Living on the street made my mental health worse for sure but at the time I didn’t know there was any other help I could get.

I was on the streets for about three years but eventually I spoke with a family member about getting some proper help. The doctor arranged for me to have counseling and about a year ago I went to the council as a rough sleeper and they referred me to the Salvation Army hostel. They’ve done so much for me. They put a roof over my head and supported me to get back on my feet. My friends in the hostel have been really supportive too. I’m hoping to get a fresh start outside Plymouth. It’s much better now, but it’s taken a long long time to get where I am.”

Lee, Plymouth.

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