Glass Door staff remember Gitanas as the guest who put his hand through a window, drunk one night at a shelter. Four years on, he's sober, holds down a job and lives in a studio flat.

 

He couldn’t have made the journey off the street and the transformation back to being a productive member of society without the support of Glass Door and the drop-in at Chelsea Methodist Church, Gitanas says. “If not for this place, I would not be here.”

Looking for a better life, Gitanas left Lithuania for London in 2008. The reality he found was far from easy, and things became worse after falling on a construction site. He had to have various operations on his back and had “four or five” disks removed. “I was on a lot of medicine and pain killers,” he remembers.

As Gitanas couldn’t work, he lost his job and received a “large” cash payout. But by then, he had taken to drinking to numb the pain. The cash didn’t last, and the drinking intensified as he began living on the street. 

The shelters and drop-in centre helped him turn things around. The Chelsea Methodist Church allowed him to use their address to apply for identification documents that had been lost when he was living on the street; his caseworker Neil registered Gitanas with a GP, helped him get linked in with the local outreach team and provided the referral to a hostel that first got him off the street. 

Gitanas says he quit drinking on his own. It wasn’t easy, he recalls. His face settles into a determined gaze. “I had to make a choice,” Gitanas remembers. 

Gitanas now works at Westfield Centre as a cleaner. “I like the work but it is hard. I need to work.”

After getting back on his feet, Gitanas wanted to make a donation back to the church and charity that helped him. Recognising a lack of Lithuanian bibles in the Chelsea Methodist Church, he donated a few copies. 

“Everybody needs to say thank you,” he says, gesturing to the dozen guests gathered in the garden at the Chelsea Methodist Church drop-in. Guests often linger here while waiting for laundry to get washed, showers to free up, appointments and lunch. 

In addition to the bibles, Gitanas also donated a wooden bench for the garden. Now other guests can have a bit more comfort as they take their turn waiting and working to turn things around.