"There’s actually someone behind that homeless guy."
10 months ago, Chris was kitting out his car, preparing to sleep in it and face the difficulties ahead. But now, he’s found his forever home, has an exciting job prospect and is feeling positive about life. In Chris’ words, ‘everything is falling into place’. We’re thrilled to be part of this happy ending, and even more thrilled to have been welcomed into Chris’ new home for a cuppa so we could hear his story.
“It all began in 2020, just before the pandemic started. I’d been quite ill and the property I was renting was cold. The landlady wasn’t keen on me using the open fire which caused us to fall out. I was threatened with eviction, but then Covid kicked in and the eviction ban started so I was kind of left in limbo living there. Then the rules changed and all of a sudden, I got a letter from the courts saying you’ve got X amount of days to be out.
I set my car up, ready to sleep in it. But then I was introduced to Arc and met with Karen (Pathway Worker), who said ‘I think I’ve got the perfect house for you!’ That meant a lot – it meant I wasn’t just a homeless guy, there’s actually someone behind that homeless guy. That was massive for me. The ability to look past that is massive. I was housed before I had to be officially homeless, I didn’t have to sleep in my car – it was a big relief. I felt really lucky.
My new place with Arc was central, clean, tidy, I was able to be private enough. There was a garden, it wasn’t overly noisy. The nicest shower I’ve ever had! It was a bit of a life change to get used to, everything squeezed into one room, but it was a godsend. It was what I needed. I wouldn’t have managed elsewhere.
Having the support from Arc was really useful – the phone calls, checking in, going out for coffees with Karen. I wouldn’t count myself as overly vulnerable, so maybe I didn’t need the support as much as others, but I knew it was always there. I did have to ask for a food voucher once because I was starving. I hated doing it – pride is not always a good thing. But Arc were able to help me in that time of need.
I was logging onto Homefinder at midnight every Wednesday to bid on properties for me to move to. After 6 months at Arc, I got lucky and was offered this place. I wasn’t the top bidder but because I was supporting a friend in the area, the housing association knew my name and thought I was the right person. It all seemed to work out for a reason.
Getting this place was incredible. It feels unreal – it was weird when I was given it, it was still weird when I moved in and now inviting you guys in and you saying you’ve done really well – I think I have! I’m just on cloud nine, really. I wouldn’t have thought I’d get a place with two bedrooms but now I can have the kids to stay – I haven’t had the kids overnight for 2 years! Now they come over plenty, they absolutely love it, it feels safe, we can go in the fields and ramble. It’s awesome, if feels like a forever home.
The help that Arc provided when moving out was great. To be able to go to Furnitrust and half furnish the new place was really cool. I still don’t have curtains (I’m saving up for that) but the white goods were brilliant. Had I moved in without all that, I would have been better off staying at Arc. Just to be able to cook and wash and be clean every day is great, rather than looking around at a place I’ve got that I can’t afford to buy things for. That was imperative, massively.
After I’d moved in, I received a call from the housing association to ask me if I was looking for work, and whether I’d be interested in having a conversation with them about a job. I had an informal interview and the job and company seemed great! I start in a couple of weeks and I’m really really looking forward to it! All the things I've been missing are suddenly falling into place!
What I’d say to Arc is ‘keep up the good work’. Keep doing what you’re doing, helping people that need it. It really benefitted me being with you, without question. I was nervous to start with but once we got chatting it was quite apparent that everything was great. Mine is a really positive story all round!"