"Before I became homeless, I had a good family, I was brought up in a good home but when my Mum and Dad split, I started going off the rails a bit. My Mum just couldn’t cope so I ended up in care by the time I was 10. I was in a children’s home, and unfortunately, I was abused by staff there. I went from the children’s home to boarding school, but I was bullied badly. I had fags stubbed out on me, I was tied to trees, whipped with the branches – that sort of bullying, not just verbal.
When I left school, I knew what I wanted to do. I ended up getting a job with my uncle working in Germany as a roofer. I was earning good money for an 18-year-old – spending it just as quick as I was earning it, but it was good. Good times. But then, I went off the rails again. I came back from Germany and took a couple of my friends out in a car. We were sat parked up just having a laugh, having a drink and all of a sudden, I hear rustling in the back seat – tin foil. So, I turn round and there’s my mate, smoking heroin on foil. I’d smoked weed, and that was alright, I could take or leave that. But you get into the hard stuff, and it ruins you. Trust me.
I’ve been in and out of Arc’s accommodation and on and off the streets for about 20 years, struggling to get my life back in control and it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things to come off. But I’ve done it. Just about! I’m 2.5 years clean now, just over, and it’s been good this time. Before I’ve never worried about my life, I knew I was an addict. I’d been told all my life ‘you were born an addict, you’ve got that addictive personality inside you, it only takes that little spark to bring it out.’ This time I was determined, and I’ve done it. It’s all with the help of Arc. If it wasn’t for places like this, I probably would have been dead by now, before I’d even hit my 20s. I’ve had friends end their lives because they hate the life they’re living. Arc has helped me with my confidence, my mental health, coming off the drugs.
All I will ask is that if you ever see a homeless person on the streets begging, please don’t just walk past them and ignore them. You don’t have to give them anything. But just say hello. The emotions that that will bring out in this person, just knowing that people do care, is immense.
If it wasn’t for places like Arc, I’d be destroyed."
Steve has now positively moved on from Arc’s services, after incredible hard work and determination. He recently secured his own independent accommodation and remains abstinent and is enjoying life. What can be achieved with the right support, belief and kindness is powerful.