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Stephen's story

09.08.2017 377 XX

"There’s a myriad of different reasons for people being homeless but no one stops to ask. Everyone just automatically thinks, They’re a junkie, they’re an alco. They don’t think, ‘Well maybe their life broke down, or their relationship, or they lost their job’. I met so many people on the street that didn’t have a drink problem, didn’t have a drug problem. They were homeless through their circumstance but not everyone stops to think about that. 

For me it was an escape. I was never good at dealing with my emotions. I was very angry, and the drugs took that away. And then I ended up having a big bust up with my family and getting made homeless, so I moved into a hostel and that’s when I got introduced to heroin.  

Through using that I ended up getting kicked out of the hostel but the council wouldn’t rehouse me because of the addiction, so I ended up on the streets in Sheffield for just short of four years. 

It’s all a bad memory - the abuse, the waking up covered in snow practically hypothermic cos I’ve got nowhere to sleep, not eating for a week, crawling through bins to get food. I was begging for something to happen where I wouldn’t wake up the next morning. I tried to kill myself so many times, the doctors stopped really bothering with me anymore. I cut my wrists but that didn’t work, so once I decided to try to cut my arm off. I ended up in plastic surgery for 26 hours to rebuild my arm. 

But then about five months ago someone told me about the Lighthouse in Rotherham. So I went down for an interview, got a bed the same night, moved in there and been clean ever since. I’ve always said the best people to speak to about addiction are people who’ve been through it. All the literature out there, the websites, the text books, none of that really tells you the depth of it. Becasue even if you get clean you’ve still got that stigma attached to you, and it’s the same stigma as ‘homeless’.  

The only thing I ever wished for was for someone to stop and say ‘Are you alright?’ That would have made everything unbearable bearable again. When you’re homeless and when you look like that, even if you’re not on drugs or drink, people don’t show you any compassion, they don’t show you any interest. They talk to you out of politeness. But that’s it. There’s no genuine care there. For someone to sit down with me and just say – ‘How are you?’ Just something like that. I don’t know, maybe it would have made a difference, but nobody ever does when you’re in that situation. It’s easier to look at something else, or put your head down and just ignore you."

Stephen, Sheffield  

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