“I didn’t expect all of this. I didn’t expect that I would make it somewhere safe. It makes such a difference. It’s not easy being outside with my condition.”
Daniel came to Alexandra House in the middle of 2022, months after being forced to leave his previous house in Croydon.
“I couldn’t stay in that place, it wasn’t safe and there had been trouble with the housemates too. Then my health problems started and I was in critical condition in hospital for weeks.
I had been in tough positions before, but had always got out of trouble by working, because that meant I could afford to stay somewhere. This time I could not do that – I knew I had to leave the place I was living, but at the same time I could not work. I ended up living in a tent for several months in Lloyd Park. I had to do it, so I couldn’t really think about safety and all that stuff. Eventually I got help from another outreach charity, then I was referred to Evolve by the council.
The first time I came to Evolve I was a bit anxious. I was on my own, I didn’t know what to expect, but it is much better than the last house I lived in. I have something, and that matters. I have a roof over my head, my own bathroom, a toilet. I’m not outside in the cold like other people.”
A year on, and for him managing his health is now the priority.
“I have had help from a specialist and have been given medication. I am an outpatient and I’m in good hands. I have support, so I’m not just left in the hands of destiny. With my condition it varies, so it’s hard to plan day-to-day.
I am trying to deal with it the best I can. It’s tiring: I’m not sleeping well and am often in pain, and it has been like this for more than a year. I do not know what the future holds, but at the moment things seem to be going a little bit better.
I know there is support here – mental health support, physical support. The staff here told me to let them know if I need anything. Here, I know someone will knock on my door to check I’m ok. That has happened a few times. That counts, because I’ve never had someone who knocks on my door to ask if everything is ok before.”
In Daniel’s case, it was the combination of different events happening at once which made life so challenging before he came to Evolve.
“I could handle being on the streets. It’s not something I want, but I had been without a home before and managed to turn things around with the help of working. With a job you can build a new life. But with my health problems, I couldn’t do that this time.
Twice I have lived in places which have not worked out. This last time I felt forced to leave because the place was not safe and the landlord kept demanding more money. Before that I shared a house with some people and was evicted with one day’s notice.
When things like that happen, you think ‘is something wrong with me?’ but no, there isn’t. These things do happen to people, and I think sometimes landlords assume they won’t complain. If something is wrong you have to say, you can’t play games when it comes to your home.
It is also difficult when you go through it alone. I came here on my own, from France. Before that I was in Italy where I had work but not a good, steady job. I built up my courage and came to the UK on my own, and I know I am not the only one. Lots of people take risks to get themselves a better life. I do have some family here, but it is really difficult to have a conversation with them because of things that have happened with them in the past. Some things are really hard to come back from.
I have been through a lot. Now at least I have some rest, and it looks like things may start to go better.
If I am healthy I can manage everything else. There are things I want to do and places I want to go. I would love to move to America, but also explore more of the UK. We will see.”
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