A Young Man On Living On The Streets In London
After a move from Glasgow to London and the breakdown of his relationship, James found himself living on the streets for eight months.
“I grew up in Glasgow and lived with my mum, although we didn’t have the best relationship. My dad had died and she remarried, but her new partner was very homophobic and abusive towards me. Home just wasn’t the best place for me to be.
“I moved in with my partner, but soon after he got a new job in London. I’d always wanted to move to London, so I took the opportunity to with him. But when things went wrong, I realised I didn’t have any where to turn.
“I slept rough, mostly under Waterloo Bridge. It was the middle of winter and pretty harsh, but I could take it. I ended up sleeping on the streets and under bridges in London for eight months.
“I became used to it. I learned who to avoid and who was worth my time. I don’t drink or take drugs, I don’t see the point, so I always had a clear head. Even after all this time, I didn’t know who to ask for help.
“Then, through Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields (a London-based homeless charity offering outreach, day centres, night services and support) and the Albert Kennedy Trust (a charity helping young gay, bisexual and transgendered homeless people), I was put in contact with a youth worker. A couple of days later I was told a suitable service had been found for me. I moved into Greek Street that night and was assigned a key worker. He called me and managed to sum up all my needs in one phone call – he didn’t expect anything from me or judge me. He was great.
“I moved into Greek Street’s nine nights section. It was awful. I was inside and felt claustrophobic after so long sleeping rough. It was my key worker that helped me stick with it. He knew how to deal with me, talk to me and what was right for me.
“He also told me I should join the Centrepoint Parliament. I suppose he thought I’d be good at it, or he wanted me to mix with more young people. I wasn’t sure at first, but I soon realised that Centrepoint really does listen to its young people. The Parliament makes a difference – it’s fantastic and I’m proud to be part of it.
“I can’t pretend that sometimes I don’t want to just escape and find some comfort in solitude, even if it’s under that bridge again. But with Centrepoint, I’m on my way to living independently. It’s helped me without a shadow of a doubt. It makes sure that I know everything I need to function successfully independently and flourish in every part of life, in work – in every situation. I think that’s rare. I’d even like to get a job with Centrepoint one day.
“I’ve been off the streets for four months now and hope to stay with Centrepoint a while longer before I can get my own place.”
Text LBC to 70766 and donate £5 to Help a London Child.
Find out more