Dave’s* life had been dominated by rough sleeping for over 20 years. Despite coming in and out of temporary accommodation over this time, he had always returned to the streets – and had begun to call them home.

Between 2019 and 2022, Dave came to Barnabus for his essentials and basic support. But then he suddenly began to engage more with our team, even though he wouldn’t reveal much besides the fact that he was rough sleeping and struggled with drinking.

We began to get to know him more and find out why…


Overwhelming responsibility

As Dave told us more about his past, he revealed that he had recently been in rehab for his drinking. In fact, he had successfully completed his treatment and was sober. In November 2021, he was discharged and moved into his own flat. Sadly, this was where the support ended, and things started to take a turn for the worse. Dave didn’t have the knowledge or confidence to manage his own flat – he felt it too overwhelming to bear, started drinking again, and eventually left to sleep on the streets.

We believed that, with the right support, Dave could move back into his flat. At first, he was incredibly hesitant, yet he knew that was ultimately what he wanted when he felt ready. So, he started to work towards this goal with us. The first step? Organising the financial side of things. Fortunately, Dave’s rent had been automatically covered by his housing benefits, but his bills had not been paid and he was in debt. We came up with a budget and payment plan to address these, and he has now either cleared his utility arrears or is on track to do so.


Incredible openness

Despite starting to resolve the practical issues surrounding Dave’s flat, he kept pushing back his move-in day. It was obvious that there were some mental obstacles to overcome. Through emotional support, he opened up to us and revealed that he was understandably struggling to come to terms with his situation ­– he would be returning to a normal life after more than two decades on the streets.

Dave also mentioned that he was in the army when he was younger, and this experience seemed to be the root cause of his drinking. His mother had also passed away recently, and this caused an emotional rift that he had not yet addressed. Dave’s worries were that, when he moved into his flat and started to address his drinking, he would have to start addressing these traumas too. We assured Dave that we would be there to support him through this.


Inspiring steps forward

Dave has now started making small steps towards living permanently in his flat. We drive him there to stay for a couple of nights at a time. Along the way, we often end up talking about how he’s feeling and reiterate that we’re there to provide emotional support should he need it.

We’ve also helped Dave make it a comfortable home, helping find a TV, clear rubbish, and install new blinds. He’s slowly realising that it’s becoming a safe place where he can live, and where we can support him to work through his grief and substance issues. Dave was never taught how to create these habits and skills in early life, so we’ve been able to show him – and this has been essential in facing his fears of living independently.


The journey isn’t over…

Now that Dave has established some useful practical habits, we’ll continue to support him to address his emotional trauma when he feels safe and comfortable to do so. We’re in the process of getting new carpets and furniture for his flat, too – continuing to ease his transition from rough sleeping.

Find out more about the one-to-one support we offer here, or how you can donate to help us continue our work here.

*Name has been changed to protect our friend’s identity