Ishmel hasn’t seen his mother since he was just 5 years old in Sierra Leone. When he arrived in the UK he lived with his Grandparents, who worked 7 days a week, so Ishmel would sometimes have to walk home alone from his primary school in Hammersmith all the way to their home Mitcham.

When he was 16 years old his relationship with his Grandad broke down and he was asked to leave the family home. At first he sofa-surfed at his friends’ houses, but things soon got worse and in desperation he found himself sitting on night buses and sleeping rough with no money and nowhere to go.

Through social services, Ishmel was offered hostel accommodation, and came to Evolve in 2016. In our Supported Housing South West services he was given support using our asset-based model, and practical help with job interview practice, CV writing and advice on Universal Credit, as well as opportunities to gain experience and grow his confidence. The support helped him to feel safe again.

Ishmel had achieved a BTEC in Sports Science whilst at school, and with our support has been volunteering as a Level 1 football coach for the Crystal Palace Foundation for over a year.

He’s now 21 and this year received his Right to Remain in the UK. He is determined to find employment coaching football and re-connect with his lost family. He’s gained independence living in his own flat in Wimbledon, and is looking forward to decorating his new place!

“Your life can easily take a bad turn. If it wasn’t for Evolve I wouldn’t be where I am now. The key workers here know what they are doing. My key worker, got to know me properly, taught me cooking skills and was a very friendly person.

I have grown mentally and physically. Things are much easier for me now when it comes to staying on top of payments. I have all the apps on my phone! – my key worker taught me everything I need to know to understand the system and my own research helped me understand fully what I can achieve.”

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