After being helped off the streets, Ricky quickly received a flat of his own through Croydon Housing First
Ricky looks around the room, taking it all in. Slowly, he spreads his arms: “I’ve got my own house, my own kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, the living room you’re sitting in now.”
He stands up, and walks into the next room where a tent lies folded in the corner. “I slept in this tent every night when I was on the streets. Now, look around, I’ve got a place of my own.”
Losing his brother and sleeping rough
Ricky spent two months sleeping rough after his brother died from an overdose, a traumatic experience that also left him with nowhere to live.
“I found him dead. I was devastated. I was in a terrible place,” he says.
“I was moving around when I was sleeping rough to keep myself safe. You get beaten up. I’m very vulnerable as a person.”
He had been staying in Croydon and approached the council but, as he had no connection to the local area, he was unable to get any help.
Thames Reach outreach workers found Ricky bedded down and were able to help him into temporary accommodation. He was also put in touch with health services to get treatment for his alcohol use.
At this stage, Ricky expected a long stay in temporary housing, but he was referred to our new Croydon Housing First team, which helps people experiencing homelessness into a flat of their own immediately.
This service helps people to quickly become independent again, rather than spending long periods in hostels or temporary accommodation. The team also helps with access to healthcare, benefits and training opportunities.
The Housing First team worked with the council, advocated for Ricky, and were able to secure him a flat.
“I was told that I had a viewing, a chance to get my own place,” Ricky says. “I was shocked it had come so quickly. I assumed it would be a private rented flat so I couldn’t believe it was through the council. I wanted it so much that I came to just look at it from the street in the days before the viewing.”
Enjoying his new home
Ricky returns to his seat by the window where the afternoon sun pours in. He’s now been in his flat for six months, and is continuing to access support to help him during his recovery.
“Coming off the streets has involved a bit of re-adaptation,” he says. “I’m paying the rent and making use of the help I’ve been offered. When you go from the streets to having to do things like paying bills again it can be difficult. If I want help I will ring up and ask. I know I will always get it.”
Ricky is now thinking about the future, and wants to start training courses to rebuild his confidence and eventually find work. “I used to be an English teacher, and I know French. Maybe I could do something with that,” he says.
He looks around his flat again. “I love this place and I’m so grateful for it. I’ve got a nice view out of the window. I’ve got a nice parquet floor. They wanted to rip that up but I said hell no.”
You can help people like Ricky to find a new home by donating to Thames Reach today.