“I’d always worked. I never thought I’d be in the position of finding myself homeless, but then I hadn’t faced up to the reality of what was actually happening.”

Alcohol was one of the triggers for Robert’s homelessness. He was working full time in a Government Department. While he was drinking heavily on a daily basis he didn’t see the warning signs because he was functioning at work.

“I’d always drunk heavily but it was contained. I could get up in the morning and go to work but I was one of these people who was burning the candle at both ends. I was working hard and playing hard. That was the culture. Looking back, my problems were like a slow drip, drip effect from going somewhere to nothing.”

When his mother became unwell he took a period of unpaid leave to look after her until she sadly passed away. On returning to work the position had changed considerably and he became unhappy and resigned. He was looking forward to having some free time but it was a troublesome combination.

“I hadn’t really got a great idea of what I wanted to do. The combination of free time and disposable income meant I was spending more time drinking than doing anything constructive. My life started to unravel. I felt incredibly low and I was probably experiencing depression but did not get a diagnosis at the time.”

Robert’s journey to recover his physical and mental health has taken willingness on his part to work with street outreach teams and support services.

He’s now settled in housing and working with Marina from our Education, Training & Employment team. Working together has meant he’s discovered what he wants to do now, and the steps he needs to take to get there.

“If you’d asked me a few months ago whether or not I would think about doing anything connected with helping homeless people I probably would’ve said no, but only because I didn’t think I had a great deal of experience. I asked Marina here what she thought and she said smiling: ‘You’d be an excellent candidate. You’ve got the right kind of personality, you get on really well with people and you’ve had that lived experience.”

This encouragement spurred Robert on, “I have applied through the step up volunteering scheme here to help the day centre. I’ve also applied to Groundswell as part of their peer advocate scheme to explain to homeless people the benefits of getting some medical attention.”

“I want to come back into the world of work, I want to contribute. I’m now just waiting for things to start happening! I’ve really enjoyed this process and been really impressed with the people I’ve been dealing with. It’s also a nice pay back to organisations like this, and others, who are doing such good work and I’d like to be a part of it. Whether that’s through volunteering or working on a permanent basis.”