The saying is true – life really does change in a flash. You can go from being the healthiest person that has never smoked to being someone diagnosed with lung cancer, or like me, someone who had a home and is now homeless.
I was born in Hull in 1986. I had a fairly good childhood as I grew up with both parents and was loved. My mother stayed at home to look after me when I was a child, and my dad worked as a civil engineer. I moved out of the house when I was 20 and got a nice flat by myself.
Later on, though, i started taking drugs because of peer pressure. A lot of my friends were doing hard drugs like Cocaine and Heroin, and so to fit in, I started doing them as well. I also began drinking a lot. At first it was not a problem, but afterward, I became very addicted.
I became so addicted to taking these drugs, that i started carrying them with me everywhere i went, just in case i wanted another dose. The police eventually caught me about a year ago, when I was sniffing cocaine in plain sight, and I got arrested for drug abuse.
To make matters worse, if you are in jail for less than 13 weeks, you get to keep your council flat. All you have to do is sign a piece of paper and your rent is paid for you. If you are in there for more than 13 weeks, you lose your flat, which is what happened to me.
I had a lot of items in my flat, like a PlayStation, a Sony Television, a bicycle. Everything I owned was in seven bags. I left these bags in Humbercare before I went to jail. When I came out of prison, I only had three bags remaining. They just threw all my belongings away. Everything I owned was worth more than £5,000. I could have sold all of it to make more money, but instead, all I was left with was a little money and a sleeping bag.
About five months after Humbercare lost my items, I was able to buy some cheap warm clothes with the little money I had left. I felt very hopeful again, but then a group of six boys beat me and stole all my stuff. It became even harder to ask for change because I looked more like a thug with all the bruises than someone on the street.
I felt so broken, and almost went back to doing heroin and cocaine. After that, I had to swallow my pride and ask random strangers for change: it was the worst feeling ever because I felt so ashamed, and knowing I was well off before only made it worse. I sat outside restaurants on a Saturday night because I knew that was when everyone was drunk and ordering food. A lot of the people were friendly and gave me change because they were drunk, but sometimes they spilled drinks at me and yelled at me saying I should get off the streets or move out of their way.
At that time, the worst part about being homeless was not that I was on the streets, but the number of people lying about being on the streets, I always saw so many people who had jobs pretending to be homeless. They would often get caught, and people began doubting whether anyone was really homeless. It was so annoying because there were some who were really starving and did not know if and when they would eat.
I slept rough on the streets near banks, bars outside people’s houses, and shops. When December arrived, I barely had anything to keep myself warm with so I would use the little change I got from people to buy beers to help keep me warm, or at least get drunk to take my mind off the cold. That helped a little, but then my head would be pounding the next day and I would wake up in a face full of vomit with people walking past me giving me dirty looks.
I regret ever taking drugs in the first place, but life has picked up a lot since then. About two weeks ago, I managed to get some volunteer work, and a cousin of mine volunteers as well. He is helping keep me off the streets. I am also looking for a job, but I do not know what I want to do. I hope to look back in a year and laugh at all this.