If you’d met Jamie a few years ago, you might think that his story is fairly similar to yours.
The ex-veteran had a good job that came with housing and was pretty happy in life. That was until he was made redundant with little warning, like many others during the cost of living crisis.
From there, Jamie stayed at hotels until his money ran out. Then he started to sleep in St James’s Park in central London. It felt like a hopeless situation, until he was directed to The Connection.
“…being pointed here [to The Connection] was a massive relief, that there was actually an organisation out there that are willing to help people that were deemed not a priority.”
On his first visit, Jamie wasn’t optimistic about getting the right support from The Connection as he had been rejected elsewhere – but as soon as Jamie came through their red door, he knew something was different.
“To be honest, I’ve never been in a place like this. I didn’t kind of know what to expect… but the staff were incredible. They’re incredibly patient. Everyone was so friendly. I walked in expecting coffee, instead, they could see that I was just tired.”
After a nap and hot meal, Jamie felt ready to talk. The Connection aims to create this relaxed and supportive environment for everyone they meet. After feeling isolated for so long, Jamie saw he didn’t have to be alone anymore and that it was safe to let people in.
“So the biggest thing for me was I just needed somewhere to go. Because with my experience for the last eight or nine years, getting the job wasn’t the issue: it was having a place that I could get prepared and get ready for interviews. Obviously I needed a suit, I needed shoes and all of my stuff had been stolen when I was on the streets. So my worker Zoe introduced me to Marina.”
Marina is The Connection’s Skills and Opportunities Coordinator. She supports people with anything from job interviews to tidying their CVs. She was eager to meet Jamie and get him set up to find work. An interview soon followed.
“I got an interview for a good job but I didn’t have anything to wear, so Marina said “come on, let’s go shopping”. And we walked to the shops together to get my suit. That was that gave me hope that there were people out there who still cared, and genuinely wanted to help me get back on my feet.”
It’s personal connections like this that allow The Connection to build proper relationships with the people they support. Clearly, Marina had a big impact on Jamie’s life when he needed it most:
“Marina was literally like a ray of sunshine. She really was always so positive. That’s why I popped in last week, to say thank you in person.”
Jamie’s interview was successful and he was offered a live-in job at a hotel. Unfortunately, not long afterwards the hotel had to make cuts and he found himself unemployed again. Jamie came back to The Connection straightaway and he, Marina and Zoe got their heads together again.
Jamie now plans to re-join the army in the new year, and we’ve been able to help him secure accommodation too. He is much happier and has regained his confidence. The Connection can’t wait to see what’s next for him!
In the meantime, The Connection has plenty of people who need them coming through their door every day. Each person is different but, like with Jamie, they will be with them every step of the way.