David, 37, first developed an addiction to alcohol as a teenager. He’s lived all of his adult life on the street, but now he envisions a different future. He recounts his story here: 

 

I have been homeless since I was 21-years old, so on and off for 15 ½ years. 

 

My Dad and my step-mum chucked me out. I was going off the rails; I’m not proud of it. I was lying, cheating, causing mayhem at home. They couldn’t handle me. 

 

I was drinking heavily since I was 15, really. I went to my first AA meeting when I was 19. My step-mum locked me in the house until someone came to take me to the meeting. I look back now and I thank her, but I wasn’t ready. I looked around at the meeting, and the next youngest person in the room seemed 60 years old to me. I just wanted to go out, meet friends. I went out right after the meeting and didn’t come home again until five in the morning. 

 

I’ve been clean for seven weeks now. I go to the daycentre during the day. Steve [the Chelsea drop-in manager] told me about an AA support group that meets here. And I get my mail, have lunch and do my laundry. Everyone is very supportive. 

 

I’ve been going to a lot of museums lately. They’re mostly free. I’ve gone to the V&A, the British Museum, Natural History, Tate Modern, all of them.  One day, I bought a joint ticket to Sea Life and the Big Wheel on the South Bank for £25. Instead of spending my benefits on drink, I spent it on the ticket. I spent three hours in the aquarium petting the stingrays. And then at night, I have been going to the nightshelters for a meal. So I’m at least off the streets for hours at a time. 

 

When I got the call that I had a place in the Glass Door shelters, I was at Hyde Park Corner, where I usually sleep. It took me only about an hour and 20 minutes to walk down to Putney Bridge, where the shelter was. I called my Dad to let him know. We’re in touch two or three times a week. 

 

I’ve been in accommodation before (through another charity). They give you a place to live and you volunteer with them. There’s no drinking on the site, but you can drink off site. I wasn’t ready. I had an active addiction. The drink took over really. 

 

Now I’m sick and tired. I really want it this time. I’ve looked at my life. I want to get my family back. I am a father to an 11-year-old girl in Manchester. I don’t want to die.  There are a lot of people dying on the street. 

 

I’ve been accepted into a detox program (Kairos Community Trust) now.  So I’m just waiting for the notice for when I’ll start. 

 

My plan is to be an outreach worker. I can talk to other homeless guys and say, “I was here; I know what you’re going through. I’m now off the streets, and we can do the same for you.” I can be on their level.  And I can say ‘I’ll be here if you need someone.” 

-David

(photo used is only a representative photo)