Former homeless Northampton man: 'Rough sleeping wasn’t easy. It was dangerous and I saw a lot of horrible things'
Recovered rough sleeper shares how he turned his life around with help from charity on World Homeless Day
A man who ended up living on the streets of Northampton after his relationship broke down has shared his experience of how he turned his life around for World Homeless Day.
TJ lost his home and job following the split with his partner and had no where to live so was forced to sleep rough.
The 52-year-old said: “I had no relatives around to help me and I didn’t have many friends.
"I ended up homeless and living on the streets of Northampton. I quickly lost my job as a builder too: it all just crumbled away.
"Rough sleeping wasn’t easy. It was dangerous and I saw a lot of horrible things. I started using drugs to seek some comfort and block everything out.”
TJ eventually reached out for help and in December last year, got a place at the Emmaus Village Carlton community in Bedfordshire, where he was offered accommodation and support.
The charity, based near Carlton, offers up to 42 people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless a place to stay for as long as they need it, with daily support.
"I couldn’t have asked for any place better than Emmaus. I’ve got my own room and importantly I feel safe here," he said.
"The team supported me through my drug addiction; I’ve worked hard and I’m proud to say that I’m now completely clean.”
To gain work experience, people at Emmaus work five days a week in the community, including helping to run the charity’s shops and bistro, driving to collect and deliver furniture, and assisting with gardening and domestic tasks.
Since joining, TJ has worked to get new qualifications and has started volunteering, saying: "I’ve done a PAT testing course and I’ve got my forklift truck certificate, food handling and allergens certificates and a warehousing qualification.
"Every week I also go out to help rough sleepers in Northampton and Wellingborough with a team from the charity – we’re all people who’ve been homeless and we volunteer to give something back."
World Homeless Day has been held on October 10, every year since 2010 to draw attention to people who experience homelessness needs and provide opportunities for the community to get involved in responding to the crisis.
TJ said: “Looking to the future, I’d like to get a job and my own place. I want to go back into the building and construction trade, but now I also have new skills to fall back on too.
"Coming to Emmaus has given me a chance to refocus. I can see clearly and I’m looking forward to the next chapter.”