Igor’s story


Our Outreach team have been supporting Igor, aged 33, who was found sleeping rough in Richmond. He says:

“I come from Ukraine, where I finished medical university to become a dentist, but I couldn’t find work and I didn’t have money. I came to England, where my extended family lived and for a better future. I found a room to rent and looked for work. I worked as a cleaner and then in construction. I was proud of myself. Then, one winter, I decided to move to London. I was always hopeful and positive, thinking that everything will be OK and that I’ll get by.

I worked as a painter decorator and was taught a lot of different skills. I liked life in London, working, paying rent, going out. I knew I wanted to stay in England and build a life here. I had a girlfriend, but my relationship broke and I started drinking; it was like something was broken in me. I drunk every day. I lost control and started drinking on the job. I couldn’t believe it. I was a strong person, but I just couldn’t come back. I lost my job, started running out of money, and ended up on the streets. On the streets I was so lost and I starting taking drugs. I was homeless, jobless and mindless.

I started to shoplift to survive and ended up in prison. Once out, I was back on the streets. An Outreach Worker offered me help and temporary accommodation and also support; an oyster card and food. The first time I met SPEAR, I found it hard to open and trust people, I didn’t know who they were. I started to trust them as they just held my hand, kept showing up and pushing me to get to my appointments, in a good way.

We started making a plan, with getting sober first through a detox programme. Step by step, I’m starting from the start again. I am on methadone prescription now, I have an ID, and accommodation with SPEAR. I feel happy now. When I got the keys to my room, I checked the hot water right away, showered and then slept for so long.

I won’t use drugs or drink anymore. I have a routine now and won’t go back to where I was. I started playing football again, I used to play professionally.

SPEAR saved me, I am good now. I am not as strong as I used to be, and I am scared sometimes, but I am making progress and I don’t lose control anymore.

If not for SPEAR, I don’t know where I would be”.

Other stories...

Daniella’s story

At only 22, Daniella was approached by our Outreach team while sleeping rough. She had been sofa surfing during her last year at university, where she studied English literature. After joining SPEAR’s peer mentoring programme, the Springboard project supported Daniella to take a Level 3 Education and Training course. She now works for a charity as a career specialist to support young people who have been through the care system to receive training and employment and rents her own flat.

Ashley’s story

Ashley first experienced homelessness at the young age of 16 due to a family breakdown before finding work with accommodation. Just over 18, he lost his job and was pushed into homelessness again. He spent a few months sofa surfing before having to sleep rough.

Andy’s story

Andy experienced homelessness when, under complex circumstances, he could not access his home or tools. After losing everything and several months on the streets, Andy’s mental health worsened. After coming into contact with SPEAR, Andy was assigned a case worker who supported him to find accommodation and get involved with the local community.

Krzysztof’s story

Krzysztof was found sleeping rough by our Richmond Outreach team in 2021. He experienced street homelessness due to a relationship breakdown. In July 2021, Krzysztof, as part of the Housing First scheme, signed into a ten-year tenancy for a flat of his own. A few months later, in 2022, Krzysztof was supported to pursue his interests including an English language course.