Thursday 21 November 2013
In 2012 the BBC Radio 4 St Martin-in-the-Fields Christmas Appeal raised over £2 million to transform the lives of homeless and vulnerable people across the UK. Helen and John are two people who donors have supported by giving money to the Christmas Appeal.
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“It’s just echoes”: Helen’s story
Helen (left) and Louise (right)
Helen moved into an empty house after completing nineteen months of rehabilitation. Reflecting on the day she moved into her new home Helen said “I had nothing, nothing. All I had was support”.
Support came through Louise, Helen’s support worker from Double Impact in Nottingham. Louise sees many people, like Helen, who leave rehab with absolutely no belongings at all. The move into an empty home was daunting for Helen. “It’s an echo, ’cos there’s nothing in it. It’s just echoes. You feel overwhelmed you’ve got yourself a two bedroomed house but it’s just an echo.”
Helen was awarded £250 by the Vicar’s Relief Fund just a few days after she moved in. She was able to buy a few things that she needed. Helen says “£250 bought me a toaster, a fridge, essentials what you needed. And I was happy with that. As long as I can cook, keep my food cold, I was alright”.
Louise knows how typical Helen’s story is. “The reality is that a lot of people are given keys to a home with nothing in it. You are so vulnerable in those first few months after leaving rehab that just to be able to get a few essentials together just to cook and eat and buy some electric, makes a massive difference.”
The Vicar’s Relief Fund helped to give Helen a home, as she says “I’ve got gas, I’ve got electric, got a roof over my head, got food in my belly and I’ve gone through another 24 hours of being clean”.
Moving away from the streets: John’s story
John outside The Connection at St Martin's
What keeps us in our homes? Most people say the relationships they have with friends and family, who support them and are there when things get tough.
If you’re homeless, or at risk of finding yourself on the streets, you often have no one to turn to in a crisis which is why finding a home is only half of the solution to the problem. The Connection at St Martin’s helps people like John to be housed, but also meaningfully occupied – whether in work,volunteering or getting involved in activities. Integrating back in to society is key to being happy and sustaining a life away from the streets.
This is John’s story:
“When my wife died I was left to bring up my son. Then when my son left I was left in the house on my own. I didn’t feel right, I started getting depressed. I went back to my family in Yorkshire but I was very depressed and couldn’t stay there.
I started sleeping rough and felt free of it all, that feeling lifted but you can go two ways. You can either get involved in drink and drugs but I wanted to go the other way and get my life started.
I found out about The Connection from a friend and Neil helped me in to a charity project hostel. It’s a big house and I have my own key. It’s a stable place. It’s a big relief to go in somewhere and feels like a weight has lifted. I couldn’t have done it alone, you need help along the way. Workspace helped me get a work trial and after 2 or 3 days I got an email from the Chef saying I had got the job! It’s all going well.”
We need your support to continue to transform the lives of people like Helen and John. Please donate now.