Over 30 years ago ago, Steve found himself living in Lett’s House, a children’s home in South Croydon.

“I spent my entire life in the care system, and when I was moved from my last foster home, I was placed in Lett’s House. It felt like staying at a bed and breakfast. We used to have a simple routine – just one meal a day, usually in the evening.”

Fast forward to 2010 and Evolve Housing + Support took ownership of the old Lett’s House building, transforming it into Eva House, a vital part of its Mental Health Step Down service, alongside Emily and Crocus House. Referrals to this service are typically made by Croydon Council or South London and Maudsley Mental Health Trust (SLaM), following a stint in residential care or hospitalisation. Individuals seeking support present with a range of diagnoses, including conditions such as psychosis, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and self-harm.

Just over a year ago, Steve became homeless and due to his mental health needs he was referred to Eva House. For him, this move symbolised his life coming back to where it began.

“The building has obviously changed since it was Lett’s House. I remember the layout with the rooms upstairs, a small TV room downstairs, and a security office at the front. The kitchen was large, and the staff were alright. There were meetings, groups not one-on-one sessions like there are now.”

Reflecting on his time at Lett’s House, Steve notes the absence of practical skills training for young people, such as managing money and navigating the banking system.

“While having a roof over your head is essential, many of us needed guidance on financial matters. These skills should have been part of the education system, taught in secondary schools.”

In the past 30 years, the surrounding area of what was once Lett’s House has undergone significant changes due to ongoing construction projects. Steve speaks fondly of the welcoming, home-like atmosphere that greeted him upon his return.

“When I first moved back in, I was anxious, but once you’re here, it feels like a tightly knit community. Mental health is important here. I remember feeling relieved when I first walked in, seeing cosy spaces. It didn’t feel intimidating at all. Communication with the staff is easy, and there’s a supportive environment among the people living here.

I’ve been getting involved in activities like cooking projects. it’s great that they offer a variety of options. It feels like a safe space here. The staff are also helpful and genuine. And it’s nice to see people working here actually show a real interest in how people are getting on.”

Looking ahead, Steve sees himself becoming a volunteer to support others who have faced circumstances like his own. Having spent a significant amount of time within the system, he’s keen to consider a role where he can offer practical support based on his firsthand experience. His motivation to give back stems from a genuine desire to help others and share his knowledge to make a positive impact.

“I realised that my life has come a full circle being back here again. It’s a mixed feeling, probably not entirely positive. However, it’s also a good thing in the sense that they did their best back then. Now, this place has stepped up its game in terms of service quality. Many people who come here share similar sentiments, which speaks volumes.”

Find out about our mental health step down service here.

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