Kevin's story. 'Just having someone to talk to. That means something.'
Content warning: this story contains a brief reference to thoughts on suicide and self-harm
"I wasn’t battered or anything growing up, but my dad has been through the homeless system like me. He would just drink, drink, and drink when I was growing up. After my mum threw him out he eventually ended up in supported accommodation. Even my two brothers have been homeless in the past. The older one slept in a winter night shelter, and my wee brother is in the jail because he got caught with a gun, but he was homeless before that. It’s hard when you’re surrounded by the same things all the time.
I’ve been in all the [homeless] hostels in Glasgow over the years. They say hostels drive you to drink and drugs, and it’s true. You need a drink just to get your head down. I was in a hostel when one of the Housing First workers came and spoke with me. I was always in and out of jail before this, but now I've been out for two years. I’ve never lasted that long, and that’s thanks to Housing First. I’ve been in homelessness for years, and once you get the keys to your own place, it makes a big difference. You leave when you want. You’ve always got your own space. People are in hostels and B&Bs for years and it’s horrendous. They helped me get away from that, but it’s the way they help you too. They would even come up and help with decorating and things.
I started to feel I wasn’t homeless anymore. Unfortunately, I had to flee violence from one of the neighbours in the first place they got me. They didn’t have to help me after that, but they did. They still believed in me. People don’t appreciate the difference that makes. It means everything. I’m still depressed, and sometimes I feel suicidal. I tend to self-harm a bit. Being homeless away from your wife and children is not easy. My wee boy is five and my wee lassie is three, and I haven’t seen them for a while, but these guys give me a bit of hope that once I get a permanent place I can see them again one day. When I first needed help I didn’t know where to turn. Now I can come in here just to have a chat, which always makes me feel a wee bit better. Just having someone to talk to. That means something.”
Kevin, Glasgow Housing First.
Housing First is an internationally evidence-based approach, which uses independent, stable housing as a platform to enable individuals with multiple and complex needs to begin recovery and move away from homelessness.
Through the provision of intensive, flexible and person-centred support, 70-90% of Housing First residents are able to remain housed. Having a place to call home also leads to improvements in health and wellbeing, and reduces ineffective contact with costly public services.
Unlike other supported housing models, individuals do not need to prove they are ready for independent housing, or progress through a series of accommodation and treatment services. There are no conditions placed on them, other than a willingness to maintain a tenancy agreement, and Housing First is designed to provide long-term, open-ended support for their on-going needs.
Homeless Link, About Housing First.
By sharing stories we can change attitudes and build a movement for permanent, positive change. Stand against homelessness and help us end it for good.