“I had a very strict upbringing, always surrounded by adults, so that when I went to school I had difficulty adjusting and couldn’t stand up for myself, but I didn’t realise it was a problem, I just thought that’s the way things are. I didn’t do well educationally, and I got a lot of criticism from my parents. I think that’s when I started to lose self-esteem.
“I came to London to work in my twenties, and again I had difficulty adjusting – that’s something that has continued throughout my life. I ended up homeless because of people taking advantage of me, staying in my flat and not paying rent, things like that. I got into some temporary accommodation and Southwark Council put me on their ‘vulnerable’ list. They put me in a hostel in Peckham, but it was full of drug takers and alcoholics, making things really difficult for me – you could call it ‘socialising with the wrong people.’ Things started to change for the better when I moved into a semi-independent house and it was taken over by St. Mungo’s. In 2012 I joined Outside In, and this really helped me to understand my own problems more. I’ve learned some important life skills, how to relate to other people properly, and through psychotherapy, I’ve been able to improve my relationship judgments – how to stand up for myself, not be too trusting, and deal with people who have caused me problems. Because I was so lonely, I would accept anything, but I’ve learned how to question people and exercise judgment.
“Now, I’m involved in a lot of voluntary work: doing regular reception sessions at the Recovery College; fundraising work at Griffin House; going into hostels and talking to clients about new services; working on the Recovery Approach scheme to help hostel staff give better service to clients.
“My plan for the future is simply to create a better life for myself. I’m starting to build healthy relationships with other people, and to gain confidence. I’m hoping to go to college and study book-keeping and business administration. I need to start coming to terms with life outside St. Mungo’s, and I’ve just joined the Choir With No Name. Soon I plan to join Cardboard Citizens. It’s all about buildng a different type of life.”