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Photo: Peter counsels a guest at the Glass Door dinner service.

24 March 2021

Adam*, a European national in his sixties, slept on the streets of London during the pandemic after being homeless for almost a decade. Thanks to a connection made at Glass Door’s community dinner service, Adam is now getting the support he needs to find a route out of homelessness.

Leaving Bulgaria

In Bulgaria, his country of birth, Adam worked as an electrician and had a wife and a daughter. However, his family fell apart when he and his wife divorced. After his mother died, Adam felt there was little keeping him there, so he decided to leave for a new life in Germany, where he lived for five years while working as an electrician.

In 2012, Adam uprooted again and moved to Ireland. He lived there for four years, and it was during this time that he first experienced homelessness. He stayed at homeless shelters in Dublin and Belfast and sold The Big Issue to make some money.

In 2016, Adam made the move to the UK and continued selling The Big Issue – his only source of income now.

On the streets during the pandemic

When the first lockdown came into force in March 2020, Adam was still sleeping on the streets. With restaurants, gyms, libraries and day centres closed, many rough sleepers struggled to find basic necessities like food, water and toilets during this time.

Adam had no access to public funds due to his immigration status and therefore his only route out of homelessness was through working and saving for a deposit, an incredible challenge to anyone without a stable place to sleep and shower.

Adam fell through the cracks of the Government’s Everyone In scheme, which saw thousands moved into temporary accommodation at the start of the pandemic.

As Adam was constantly on the move, sleeping in different spots every night, the outreach teams that locate and place people into accommodation couldn’t find him.

However, Adam came to Glass Door’s community dinner service, which has been serving meals every night since November 2020. That’s where Adam first met Peter, a Glass Door caseworker.

Finding temporary accommodation

Peter struggled at the beginning to establish a solid relationship with Adam. Adam suffers from poor hearing, so he avoids answering his phone. The dinner service became the one place where Peter knew he could find Adam, and together they began to work on a plan to end Adam’s homelessness.

As a first immediate step to ensure that Adam didn’t have to sleep on the streets, Peter referred him to the local outreach team for emergency accommodation. Adam still had a tendency to move around a lot, but Peter managed to convince him to stay in the same location so that the outreach team could find him. Finally, just after Christmas, they did.

The outreach team offered Adam temporary accommodation, which allowed him to find some much-needed rest and respite from the cold. Peter also helped Adam apply for an over 60’s Freedom Pass which enabled him to travel around London for free at a time when he had little or no money.

Since Adam is no longer sleeping on the street, Peter has observed some changes. Says Peter:

Each time Adam attends the dinner service now, he has a big smile on his face as he has a warm bed and access to a shower. He looks like a new man!

Accessing further support

Next, as Adam had no access to public funds, Peter referred him to another Glass Door colleague who specialises in supporting EU nationals to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme. The scheme grants EU nationals who have spent five years in the UK the same rights as British citizens after Brexit. Adam recently received his “settled status”, allowing him equal rights to healthcare, benefits and pensions.

Peter then helped Adam make a claim for Universal Credit. Adam plans to use the support when it is finalised to find more permanent accommodation through the private rented sector. In the meantime, Adam continues to stay in the temporary accommodation and attends the dinner service regularly.

Adam said:

Glass Door have done a lot for the homeless community in London. Thanks to them I now feel content with living.

*Adam's name has been changed to protect his identity and a representative photo used.

If you want to help more people like Adam find safe shelter and access personalised casework support that will help them move beyond homelessness, please consider making a donation.