Carl’s story

After a short time spent sleeping rough and struggling with addiction, Carl is moving on to the next chapter of his life in a new flat, having made fantastic progress with his rehabilitation, thanks to support from Croydon Reach and Housing First

Carl first became homeless after struggling to keep on top of the bills, rent and admin involved in his tenancy. He returned to his family home for a short time, but after a relationship breakdown he found himself rough sleeping for the first time. He was picked up by outreach services, and moved into supported accommodation in Croydon. Whilst there was support available, he struggled to engage. Carl chose to spend more and more time on the streets, begging and sleeping out overnight. Spending less time in the project meant that Carl was not engaging with the support to help him with benefits, his mental and physical health, and with his drug use.

Carl was then sanctioned by the Job Centre for not attending appointments, and with no source of income he built up service charge arrears, and was evicted from the supported project. With no source of income, and no space to call his own, Carl’s physical health deteriorated. His drug use then increased as a coping mechanism. This had a negative impact on his physical and mental health, and meant that he spent more time begging to sustain his habit.

While he was on the streets, he was helped by Croydon Reach, the outreach provision in the borough. They were able to check on his welfare, and worked to encourage him to return to the supported project, offering to help him clear his arrears. Croydon Reach could see that Carl would continue to choose rough sleeping, and that his health would continue to suffer as a result, so offered another option: Housing First. Housing First were able to meet Carl whilst he was on the street, and explain what they would be able to offer him; somewhere safe to live that was his own, and a support worker who would listen to him, and build personalised support around what he wanted to achieve. His own front door, and a safe space to rest and to reflect on his future, for the first time in a long while. Carl began to feel cautiously optimistic.

By building a good relationship with the team, Carl felt safe enough to open up about his patterns of use, so the team could find the best method of support for him. By breaking tasks down into small, achievable chunks, they were able to get his benefits sanction lifted, and Carl received his first Universal Credit payment in months. Seeing this result made him confident that Housing First really would be able to help him. Now that he had an income, he was able to move in to temporary accommodation, and very soon after this was offered a chance to view his Housing First property. The team were able to quickly arrange for carpet, white goods, and furniture to be fitted in the flat, to make it look like a home.

With regular, frequent visits to Carl when he first moved in, he told Housing First that he would like help engaging with local drug services. This was a huge step, and whilst overcoming drug addiction takes a very long time, he has remained linked in with the drug service, and taking his prescription since he moved into his flat, and has not been seen begging in his old usual spot since. Whilst Carl has not stopped using drugs altogether, he is using in a safer way, with minimised risk of harm. Spending less money on using has allowed Carl to invest in making his flat a home. He has also registered with a local GP and is beginning to focus on his physical and mental health. Carl has begun to reconnect with some of his family, and his home through Housing First has given him both the space and the confidence to do so. He hopes to start an online course in the New Year, and is hopeful that despite the adversity that 2020 has brought, 2021 will be his year.

This winter, we’re highlighting the work we’re doing to help these people move on and live more fulfilling lives. You can find out more about our Moving On From Homelessness campaign and the services supporting people like Carl by clicking the link here.

*image used is not that of Carl.