12 May 2020

Jimmy*, 58, came to the UK from Jamaica 18 years ago. He has been homeless for over three years now and is not currently eligible for assistance to help him find a way off the streets.

“I have my haunts. Brockwell Park, all-night McDonalds, night buses.

“The worst was when I was turfed out of hospital back onto the streets. I was in King’s College Hospital having an operation for gallstones. They told me I probably got them because I was struggling to eat a balanced diet when I was on the streets and had lost a lot of weight very quickly.

The doctors tried their best to find me somewhere with the council once I left. But I don’t have the right papers so I went straight from a hospital bed to the street.

Jimmy says that he arrived in the UK on a short-term visa. There were plenty of work opportunities in construction for him at first so he decided to settle down with his partner here. They had a daughter four years after he came to the UK.

“A few years later my relationship broke down. My partner and daughter stayed in the rented flat and I found a room in a shared house. But slowly, slowly, the work dried up and I couldn’t make enough money to pay the rent. I did everything I could to find a job but each contract was only for a few weeks and never permanent.

I have a beautiful daughter and I never want her to know that I ended up sleeping on the streets. I am so embarrassed.

After three years sleeping rough, Jimmy turned to Glass Door this March and joined the Wandsworth circuit just a few days before shelter guests moved into hotels.

“This is the first time in my life that I have had my own room and a shower all to myself. The bedsheets are washed and the St Mungo’s and Glass Door staff are so kind.

“I have always had to struggle but I paid my taxes in full for 15 years before I became homeless. I am not allowed to access any support from the council or the government so I don’t know what will happen next. I really want to work so I will try and find construction work again. I have heard that it might be even harder to find a job after this though.

All I know is that the people at Glass Door have cared about me. And I am so grateful for that.

At the moment, Jimmy is on a three-year visa so he can work and stay in the UK but he has no access to public funds. He has applied for leave to remain in the UK so that he can stay in London as his daughter grows up. Jimmy has yet to hear a decision.


*Jimmy’s name has been changed and a representative photo used to protect his privacy.

To provide support to someone like Jimmy and make a long-term difference in the life of someone affected by homelessness, consider supporting our Covid-19 Emergency Appeal