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Paul’s Story

Inevitably, the day came that I found myself literally ‘on the street’ and clean out of options

A few weeks of moving around different friends’ sofas and stretching their goodwill to breaking point followed until, inevitably, the day came that I found myself literally ‘on the street’ and clean out of options.

Like many of us, I’ve always considered homelessness upsetting, unnecessary, and a sad indictment of our priorities as a society. For all that though, it remained firmly on the periphery of my otherwise ordinary and comfortable life for fifty years.

However, the breakdown of my marriage and the ensuing financial difficulties caused my life to spiral out of control faster than I could have ever imagined, all the while convinced that homelessness could never happen to someone like me.

It can of course happen to absolutely anyone, and standing on the pavement outside my former flat smoking one cigarette after another and trying desperately to come to terms with what was happening, I finally grasped that it was indeed happening to me and there was nothing I could do about it.

A few weeks of moving around different friends’ sofas and stretching their goodwill to breaking point followed until, inevitably, the day came that I found myself literally ‘on the street’ and clean out of options.

Still trying to distance myself from the realities of street homelessness, I chose to isolate myself in woods, venturing out only to find food and relieve the boredom. This I kept up for over seven months, until I found the Trinity/SHOC day centre.

As soon as I walked through the doors I was warmly and unconditionally welcomed by staff and guests alike, and the reassurance I was given by the staff convinced me beyond doubt that I had reached a turning point and my situation was about to change.

Within a fortnight I had been referred to and accepted by Trinity for a place in their shared accommodation, and within another week I was off the street and in my own room ready to rebuild my life.

Things moved very quickly once I was settled. Between myself and my Trinity coach we developed a realistic plan to help me move forward and regain the life and self-respect I thought I’d lost forever, focusing entirely on my strengths and wishes for the future. My coach arranged part-time voluntary work in one of Trinity’s furniture stores, and from that I was offered a part-time position in their head office, also working some of the time at the day centre I had first approached for help.

A year on, and my life is almost back to the normality that I dreamed it might be but feared it never could. It’s possible of course that I could have turned things around without Trinity’s help, but it would have been an order of magnitude harder and a very lonely and solitary process; I can’t overstate the importance to me of the genuine, unconditional, and non-judgemental warmth and care that I’ve experienced in my journey with Trinity, and how essential this has been to my recovery.

I will be forever profoundly grateful to everyone at Trinity, for treating me as an individual and as someone worth investing time and effort in, just as they do every day with each of their 200+ supported residents and 50-odd day service guests.

Next time you come across someone who is homeless, remember that they are all someone’s son or daughter who has lost their way, and nobody deserves to be homeless – or should be – in this day and age. Equally importantly, never forget an often-used Trinity saying – “it could be me”. Because it could, and when it is you’ll wish for an organisation like Trinity to help you put yourself back together.