Now I walk around and my head’s up high, I’m smiling!
Rhys is now an employed member of our Crescent Cleaning Service after joining the Social Enterprise in Noveber 2022. He is a very much vlued member of the team and here is his story....
"I’ve experienced homelessness a lot throughout my life. My Mum and Dad got divorced when I had just turned 6 and my Dad left. No one sat me down and explained what was going on, I didn’t understand it and I felt lost. I started acting up, I was really naughty for my Mum and she couldn’t handle my behaviour so she put me in care. I was in care from the age of 6 until the age of 13 and then went to live with foster parents.
Whilst in care, I’d seen other children using drugs and from the age of 8, I started taking them. I didn’t take drugs to get high, I did it as a life choice to help me get through because had nobody. I stayed away from Class A drugs as I had friends who had overdosed and told myself I’d never touch them.
But later in life, things were going pear-shaped with my partner and I started using heroin. I kicked myself because I went into it with my eyes open, knowing what it could do and the effect. It gripped me badly. Personally, I used to take it to forget. I ended up losing my children, just after they turned 4 and that’s what destroyed me. To this day, that’s the only thing that’s left outstanding for me to correct in life.
After breaking up with my partner I was sleeping in a derelict building for 3 months and someone told me about Arc. I met the Outreach Team at Westfield Church and I was housed at Lindley House the same day. I was nervous going into Lindley as all my life, in desperate times I’ve managed to help myself but I was so distraught this time.
I was going through all these emotions that I didn’t want to live any more. The drug taking had increased and I’d find myself waking up in hospital. Lindley pretty much saved my life. Had I not moved into Lindley when I did, I think I probably wouldn’t have lasted much longer. I was just on a self-destruct mission.
At Lindley I’d keep myself to myself, I wouldn’t ask for help. I didn’t know how to. Being on my own all my life and fending for myself, having to ask for help is so difficult. Of all the stuff I’ve been through, asking for help has been one of the hardest things to do. Lindley supported me in ways I didn’t even realise. They helped me to find who I am. It allowed me to release a lot of these emotions and demons and deal with them appropriately. Without that, I wouldn’t be sat here now.
One day I woke up and everything had changed about my thought process. I felt that if I didn’t make a move and change my life for the better, I would end up dying there. I didn’t want that. Everything changed after that. I stopped craving drugs. Only we can change our futures. No one can do it for us. I just took a little bit of my own advice and made that change.
I was really nervous about moving out of Lindley into a satellite property but after the first night there, I really settled in and enjoyed it. Easing me back into society slowly but surely. Now I’m volunteering for Crescent Cleaning Services (CCS) and will work there once I’ve got my own place – the future is bright.
CCS has brought me out of my shell even more. It’s helped me with my mental health issues. I always used to walk with my head down, struggling with depression. Now I walk around and my head’s up high, I’m smiling, looking around. It’s totally different and it’s really nice. CCS are really understanding about everything – a problem shared is a problem halved and I am learning how to speak to people and communicate properly, rather than bottling everything up.
I’m now looking forward to getting my own place and focusing on my employment with CCS. I’m back in touch with my sons and will always be there for them. Something needed to change in me, something obviously wasn’t working because I was stuck in the same cycle, and I got fed up of living that life. I want a peaceful endingto my life, I want to live it as much as I can and take every opportunity that comes my way. Getting back into society and doing things for myself, it’s all derived from the help and support I’ve got from Arc."