Rhys’s story

Rhys is moving forward after a year sleeping rough

Rhys’s story

Charismatic army veteran Rhys welcomes visitors with a warm smile to the house in Greenwich he shares with his housemates.

It’s difficult to believe he recently spent a year sleeping rough in a patch of local woodland.

Escaping homelessness

Veteran Rhys struggled with anxiety and depression after leaving the army. This lay behind the skilled mechanic’s fateful decision to leave his accommodation and make a life for himself living off the land.

He thought that years of outdoor training had prepared him for this, but the reality soon struck home that this lifestyle was not sustainable.

Cold and hungry after a year in the woods, he was found in December by a member of the public who contacted the local park rangers. They in turn alerted Greenwich’s housing team who supported him with an emergency payment, helped him claim the benefits he was entitled to, and referred him into a night shelter.

They then introduced him to Thames Reach’s Greenwich Private Rented Sector scheme, which works alongside them. It was set up to help homeless people under 35 into private rented shared houses, after Government changes to housing benefit prevented them from moving into their own flats.

In January, Rhys moved into a shared property and he is busily looking for work. He is well respected within the house and by Thames Reach staff and is the go-to person whenever problems need resolving in the property.

He is also giving something back to the local community by volunteering for a local night shelter and helping others who are sleeping rough.

In his words

“I’d completely gone off grid for a year and dropped out. But it’s not like the Middle Ages and surviving in those circumstances was impossible in this day and age. I’m grateful for so many people who supported me. Now I’m looking to get back in touch with people, get a girlfriend and a job. I’m out to try and find myself.”

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How we helped Rhys