Sam* came to Barnabus at the end of September 2020. He had been staying with his sister but due to their relationship breakdown she had asked him to leave. With no other family to turn to, Sam slept in Piccadilly train station for two weeks. When he arrived with us he was in an incredibly vulnerable state – he had experienced bullying from others on the streets and was struggling with his mental health, contemplating suicide on multiple occasions.

Building a plan

It was clear that Sam needed to find accommodation to move away from the streets but, due to a lack of beds that could take medium or high-support needs and little recognition of his vulnerability, he slept rough for a further four weeks. During this time we helped him access basic health, mental health, and drug and alcohol support but due to the stress of his situation he could not fully engage Sam was eventually hospitalised due to a pre-existing condition that had worsened through rough sleeping.

In hospital, Sam had the opportunity to access mental health support and importantly to rest. His interactions with the mental health team and the reason for hospitalisation meant he would not be discharged back onto the streets. We worked with the homeless team at the Urban Village Medical Practice to refer Sam to emergency accommodation, and two weeks later he was offered a bed at a hostel.

Sam felt safe and settled in the hostel, so we could help him access the support he needed to begin recovery properly. He received advice on his substance use from Change Grow Live (CGL) who attended weekly and, as he now had access to a phone, a previous mental health referral could be actioned. Sam now took more pride in his appearance and the way he looked after himself, and we worked together to keep him engaged with support.

As the hostel was for emergency accommodation only, Sam was moved to temporary housing by the council while they found a long-term solution. This accommodation didn't offer the supportive environment Sam had become used to. He could not access proper cooking and cleaning facilities and experienced bullying which had a detrimental effect on his mental health. Fortunately Sam's work with other organisations helped him through this difficult period. We supported him to keep up his engagements with the mental health team, his GP, and CGL and, even though it was difficult, he made attempts to maintain his mental health and stabilise his drug use.

A new start

But the waiting list for move-on accommodation was long and, despite Sam's perseverance, he struggled to maintain his mental health and engage with services. There didn’t seem to be many alternative options. He wasn’t ready to go into his own property without support, as this could undo the progress he had made in the past six months. Fortunately, a space opened up in a shared property, that we had housed several of our friends in, through our resettlement tenancy scheme, which suited Sam perfectly. He could move away from the temporary accommodation and continue working with us to change his behaviours. With access to daily support for mental and emotional health, drug use, and housing issues, the aim was for Sam to reach a point of independence, where he could manage his own tenancy independently.

The day before Sam moved into the house Sam told us he was looking forward to the move and that he could already feel his attitude towards himself changing with the knowledge that he would be in a safe and supportive environment.

Sam moved into the house a couple of weeks ago and although it was overwhelming, it was plain to see how settled and comfortable he felt around the house and with his new housemates. His journey from the Beacon to his own tenancy has been full of ups and downs but Sam has done incredibly well. He has engaged with our support and seen a slow but steady change in his behaviours and attitudes. Our work with Sam isn’t finished, but his progress is immense.

This year is our 30th anniversary of empowering people into a home we’ve come up with 30 ideas for you to support us this year and we would really love your help, please also share our story to your friends and family on social media.

* name changed to protect our friends identity