Christopher became homeless in 2010, after losing his job as a financial accountant. His loss of earnings, combined with a relationship breakdown, meant that he was forced onto the streets where he was sleeping rough for ten months.
Many of us take the security of having a job, family and home for granted. It is devastating if one falls through, but there is often a partner, friend or family member that we can turn to. For Christopher, and for many other people who find themselves street homeless, there was no-one that he could turn to for support.
The period that followed was extremely testing. The stigma attached to living on the streets forced him to move away from the area and community where he had been living. He found himself in Westminster where, at first, he slept on the streets before seeking temporary shelter at a church each night. During this time he says he felt dejected, devalued and marred by self-doubt. Life simply passed him by.
Things were, however, about to change. Through word of mouth from the homeless community, he learnt about The Passage and approached our Resource Centre where he was welcomed and made to feel safe. Our Rough Sleeping team supported him and encouraged him to get involved in the social clubs that are run regularly at the centre.
It was not long before Christopher was able to build up a relationship of trust with the team: he took the lead on co-ordinating the film club, and later became a regular volunteer for The Passage. It was this steady interaction and routine that kept him grounded during his time on the streets and, he says, gave him the sense of purpose to keep going throughout this period. We were eventually able to help him into accommodation, which enabled him to focus on longer-term aspirations, such as employment and future ambitions.
Our Client Development Team registered him on the Back to Work scheme, put him in touch with employers, and helped him secure an apprenticeship. This was an enormous achievement. From this point, Christopher’s determination continued to grow. He began actively applying for work and attending interviews. His resolve never wavered. Unfortunately, however, ill health struck and he had to take time out to have an operation. Despite dealing with all that, he stayed in contact with The Passage throughout his recovery.
Christopher’s commitment, and the positive impact he had on other clients meant that we were eventually able to support him into a full-time paid role at The Passage. Being able to use his own experiences to help clients was a huge turning point and has meant the world to him.
A great deal has changed for Christopher. He is now settled in his accommodation, is healthy, in paid employment and happy with his life.
“I am an example of someone that The Passage has saved. The Passage can help you achieve. Some people really need guidance and the Education Centre provides it. My advice for others is not to let go. You can get help.”