Did you know?
The number of people sleeping rough in London has surged to a record high with 4,068 people sleeping rough between July and September.
This is the highest quarterly rough sleeping count recorded in London, outside of the pandemic, since records began.
were sleeping rough for the first time
suffered from poor mental health
Support people like David to move on from a life on the streets and onto a journey to independence.
I had a good job as a welder which I’d done for 12 years – working on top of the range stuff. I had a three-bedroom house, my kids stayed over on the weekends.
I never thought I’d end up homeless, you just don’t think it’s going to happen to you.
I worked long hours and then when my mental health deteriorated everything just spiraled – I couldn’t cope – I lost everything and I found myself homeless.
I moved around quite a bit and stayed in temporary hostels for a while then I ended up living on the streets for a year. It’s a scary place and the winter is really hard – it’s so cold.
Then one night back in June I met Andy, an Outreach Worker from SPEAR.
Andy was amazing, he offered me so much encouragement. It’s hard because after you’ve been homeless for a while you can give up hope – you don’t think you have any more options.
At one point I thought I had a place but then that fell through. I remember feeling devastated, and I’m not going to lie, I cried that day.
I just lost all hope again, but then Andy called and he helped me feel positive again, he told me not to give up!
And he was right not to give up as a few days later Andy called me to say there was a room available in one of SPEAR’s hostels and did I want it?
I couldn’t believe it, it was like this massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
When I arrived at the hostel I was made to feel really welcome. Even though it was summer I noticed the radiator immediately – I knew I’d be warm, and when you’ve been living on the streets for so long it feels amazing.
I feel really safe here, not like some of the places I’ve stayed in. This is a different world.
I’ve got a key worker who has really helped me focus. I know I can be honest with him and make the most of the opportunities I have, That’s the beauty of living here. I’ve had my ups and downs but SPEAR’s staff are always around to encourage me. I’m really focused on my recovery now and have been going to recovery meetings. I’m about to start the SMART Recovery programme for 3 months –it’s going to be intense but I’m so ready.
SPEAR has helped me to engage, before I used to shut down and not want to talk to anyone.
Now I know how important this is and I’m doing cooking classes here at the hostel, I’ve helped with the garden and I’ve put myself forward to volunteer at a community allotment where they grow vegetables for a local soup kitchen. I’ve also just got a bike and I’m loving going for rides in the parks and along the river – the views are amazing and it’s getting me fit!
Some people see these things as little things but I see them as big opportunities.
Here at SPEAR I have all the things I never had before, this is a safe space and I know that I’m heading in the right direction. My goal is to get my own place and start seeing my kids again, that’s what I’m focused on 100%.
I have a roof over my head and I’m so grateful to SPEAR for all their support. It’s a shame there aren’t more places like this one!
Thank you for reading my story.
Best wishes, David