John was stabbed whilst sleeping rough on a park bench.
A spiral of trauma, addiction, and poor mental health had driven him into a pit of homelessness.
With no hope, no one he felt he could trust, and the feeling of being a burden, John eventually found the support he needed.
Struggles with addiction and mental health
John moved to the UK from Eastern Europe when he was just 11 years old. He attended secondary school in the UK and then started working in restaurants, but alcohol addiction and mental health problems resulted in him becoming homeless.
Before the UK left the EU, John was in supported housing. Struggling with this accommodation and drinking heavily, he began to have frequent suicidal feelings; issues which prevented him from applying to the EU settlement scheme. His support worker tried to get him to make his application, but his constant struggle with addiction and poor mental health became too much for John and he eventually left his accommodation and began sleeping rough.
After this John stopped engaging with our service, as he was embarrassed about how he had left the property and felt that there was no hope. He was not eligible for benefits or housing assistance without his settled status, despite having lived in the UK for 15 years. Through various professionals, including the council and the police, we continued to try and keep in touch with John, letting him know that he was welcome to return to our services at any time. But we didn’t hear from him.
A brutal attack
After almost a year of trying to reach out to John, he was stabbed whilst sleeping on a bench in the town centre. After he had the stab wounds in his neck treated at the hospital the police dropped him off at our Basis Gateshead drop-in.
Since his brutal attack, he had been afraid to sleep at night and instead walked around all night, trying to sleep when he could during the day.
He asked if he could have a shower and our staff provided him with a change of clothes. John came out of the bathroom “looking 10 years younger!” according to Sally, our Basis Gateshead Team Leader.
Our drop-in staff helped John make contact with the embassy about his status in the UK and we used money generously given by Muckle LLP to get John a passport; making his application to the EU settlement scheme easier. We also provided his travel expenses to get to the embassy and to buy some food for his journey.
John told us he was glad he had finally come to see us as the staff had smiled and were really happy to see him. He even sent the drop-in staff a thank you card.
John now volunteers in a kitchen and has been placed in our 58:7 emergency accommodation. A hard-worker, John hopes to find employment soon.
It’s because of the support he received at our Gateshead Basis drop-in that John found his path out of homelessness. It was because he found hope again, that he felt safe again.
Unfortunately, 94% of people facing homelessness have suffered trauma just like John. In our first ever advocacy campaign we are calling on the government to do more to tackle trauma, because without first tackling trauma, we cannot end homelessness.
(Name changed for anonymity)