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Aaron’s Story*

I always think “it could have been worse”, I always think “worse things happen to other people”.

Then it happened, my twin sister was killed in a traffic accident.  To say I was stunned would be putting it mildly.  My world fell apart.  I was fine until that first Christmas and then on the 23rd of December it all just landed on me.  I went to bed and stayed there for about three months, I didn’t answer the phone or the door I ignored the post I distanced myself from my family, unusually for me I became totally self-obsessed.

The result of shutting myself away was that I lost my job.  My family don’t really know how to relate to me anymore so now I stay away, you see I can’t get used to there only being one of me, when for my whole life it had seemed as though there were two. The result of losing my job was that I lost my house; after I was served with the notice to quit it all seemed to happen so quickly and on my birthday I was suddenly homeless.  I knew a few people who worked with the homeless or the vulnerably housed, so I made a few calls got a room in a shared house which I lost because I had now developed the self-destruct button.  That thing in my head that tells me that this is too good and that I don’t deserve it, that sooner or later it will be taken away from me, that it would be better to ruin something on my own terms than to wait for someone else to do it. The self-destruct button.

When I was made homeless I was suicidal for a while. I’d had the worst possible experience of my life and now I was homeless.  I found myself staying at the Narrowgate Shelter in Salford, and although the staff there were as helpful and understanding as possible I was still homeless.  And as time went on it seemed I would stay homeless because I had been shunted to Salford from Bury, and so was in an area that had no “Duty” toward me. I was in Narrowgate for only a few weeks but it felt like years. It was while I was helping another guest at the shelter to find a home that I came to the attention of the management at Narrowgate. He was an elderly man who was very clearly demonstrating the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s and he was very clearly in the wrong place.  So I picked up his case and fought for him to be placed in an appropriate place.  From start to finish it took me less that a month to get him sorted out.  But in that time people had noticed what I was doing and had started to fight for me, I had absolutely no idea what was going on until Barry called me into an office at the shelter one day and asked me would I be interested in applying to Homes of Hope, he seemed genuinely excited that this opportunity had come up so I applied, I had the interview with Gary and Gavin at King’s Church and got in.  Oh, the relief I could feel the tension drain out of my shoulders as I took the call, hearing those magic words “we’d like to offer you a place in one of our houses”.

I’ve been here a little over six months now and find that I’m part of a strange little family, am finally getting the counselling that I asked for in bury.  So I’m learning to cope with the grief I live with for my twin, so hopefully the self-destruct button will stay silent for a while longer. I feel secure enough to start looking at my employment options and can start to think about what it will be like when I leave my Home of Hope, and just like I did all those years ago when I first qualified and got married start out on a new life of my own again.

 


*The name of this resident was changed to preserve anonymity.

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Nick’s Story

Now that I’m settled into my new home I am feeling the most positive I have done in years. I had initially been studying for a postgrad qualification but instead, due to struggling with various issues such as depression and addiction, I found myself homeless and at my lowest point.

Moving here has given me the opportunities to make a fresh start and focus on engaging with a wide range of support. Most importantly it has meant I could meet genuine, caring people who are helping me to move forwards from the negative behaviors I had become used to.

Initially, I was a little apprehensive; over-the-moon to be offered somewhere to live, yet not knowing what to expect and aware that I’d need to take a very big step forwards. I was vaguely conscious of the facts I’d be moving in with people I didn’t know, would be committing to real change and there was a Christian background. But I was made very welcome, given help to plan my own recovery and started improving quickly. Already I have been offered access to so many projects, support groups, recovery programs and encouragement to constructively engage with the local community again. More so than any hostel or other supported accommodation I was welcomed into a proper home.

It’s been a long time since I felt a part of society with a life worth living, and I currently feel like I’m becoming myself again and I’m really excited for the future.

 

Update – October 2017

I moved in to Homes of Hope’s Wythenshawe home a year ago after becoming homeless and sleeping rough in Salford when I failed to complete a masters degree due to problems with addiction and mental health that I had not successfully addressed. It has been a busy and life changing year for me. Whilst here I have been able to complete a reduction (RAMP) and detox programme, 5 months community rehabilitation (DEAP), delivered a workshop in a local primary school (LAB project), courses in health and social care, counselling, social and employment skills (Focus & Fly), regularly attended twelve step mutual aid groups and started volunteering with an addiction treatment service. I have been able to regrow my family relationships, build a network of new friends in recovery and walk my sister down the aisle at her wedding. I can now start to get my confidence back and feel hopeful for the future. I have been able to get active in the local community and attend weekly exercise groups and Wythenshawe ParkRun every Saturday. Living in this Homes of Hope home has allowed me to do all these things.

A year ago I would break a sweat going to the local shops, since living here I have been able to run in a 10k and now enter the Manchester Half Marathon – the longest distance I will have travelled by foot!

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Simon’s Story

I really enjoyed my time as a resident in the Homes of Hope house in Northenden. It gave me a safe and secure environment in which to reside in. The love and care shown to me by staff, volunteers and visitors to the house was overwhelming and means a great deal to me. I was allowed my own space when required but was also encouraged to grow and flourish. Knowing my failures were not going to be judged was good, and my successes were championed. Helping me believe in myself and what I can achieve with some help and guidance is life changing and I have hope for the future that I’ll go from strength to strength.

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Anthony’s Story

I love the house because there is plenty of laughter and freedom to be myself.

I feel that I am coming closer to God and having the opportunity to learn more about the bible and who Jesus is. Being part of the home and the culture that is being established has given me more motivation to get out into the community and help with different projects.

It can also be challenging at times, and I am finally starting to deal with and face my fears and anxieties through the support offered. It’s an honest house as the culture to speak openly and honestly has been embedded from the start with both occupants. We have recently been receiving gifts from people that will help us learn more and experiment with the different methods of cooking.

The little gifts are just as important as the bigger gifts, and we have been really impacted by people’s generosity and just the fact that it shows how much people genuinely care about us.

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Karl’s Story

The clue is definitely in the title, Homes of Hope is a place of warmth and sanctuary, I had a place to live before I became a resident, but it wasn’t a home and there was certainly little hope in my life prior to moving in.

Home is a place to feel safe, secure, valued and accepted, I was able with the support of Gary the volunteers and the other residents to slowly build my self-esteem, confidence and work on my addiction issues. It was hard at times and when I felt like giving in I was challenged to face my fears, fears that had held me back my whole life.

Change is sometimes the hardest thing, especially when you have been entrenched in a negative lifestyle for years, but with the love and support of genuine caring people nobody is a lost cause and change is possible and wonderful, I have witnessed this first hand with myself and my friends I had the pleasure of sharing Homes of Hope with.

I am now working full time in a profession that I always wanted to work in but never anticipated I would, I am living in my own home something that seemed a million miles away only a year ago.

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Joel’s Story

We asked Joel, one of our previous residents what he thought of Homes of Hope:

“Homes of Hope is a Christian home that offers something unique and priceless to the individual that has come from a broken home, drug dependence and the person who society tends to view with disdain.

Their ability which is God given provides a foundation of love and support, which enables people to value themselves and recognise their worth as a human being. This opportunity is rare in today’s society and should be encouraged and supported as the way forward in healing broken lives.”

*The name has been changed for the sake of anonymity.

 

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Graham’s Story

Friendship. Giving time. A listening ear. Laughing together.

Being honest about where we’re at. Encouragement. Learning from each other. Helping to build consistency and commitment. Watching crazy documentaries on The Discovery Channel! Sharing life. Fairly normal stuff that isn’t difficult to do but helps enrich my life and hopefully, more importantly, helps the guys on their individual journeys to recovery, independence and being part of a caring and supportive family.

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Ian’s Story

Volunteering for Homes of Hope isn’t hard work, it’s good fun.

I simply give my time to guys who want to move forward in their lives. Some love, an open ear and a little bit of time is all that’s required. I visit the house regularly, talk, drink coffee, watch Star Trek and simply support the guys in the house in any way I can. Easy!

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