Being homeless a couple of times through my life, it wasn’t like it was a shock or surprise when I was rough sleeping over 4 years ago and found myself in a situation where I could either act and do something about it or lose myself. I honestly believe that I would be in a lot worse of a place if it wasn’t for the selflessness of the staff at York Road Project who acted on my needs, understanding my situation and without any judgement got on with what they needed to do to, in my view, save me.
Having now been off the streets for 4 years I am pleased to say that things have been a lot easier for me and I have been able to give something back to the community of Woking by volunteering for a number of things and also supporting around the local lakes and within the local fishing community.
The announcement of lockdown because of COVID-19 really shook a lot of people up. I remember hearing of an announcement from Boris Johnson as I got home from my usual walks around the Lakes. I walked into the house, it was literally sprung on me!
It would be safe to say that I felt panicked and that all of a sudden it was as though the carpet had been pulled from under my feet. Like I said, I don’t watch the news so getting home and realising there is something happening that will stop mine and so many others usual routines was so difficult to understand.
Living in shared accommodation, it became scary. Who is coming and going, where have they been, have they been in contact with someone who may be infected? Then of course there is being stuck at home, with the people who I only usually saw passing me in the kitchen or bathroom. It was a time that I felt anxious, worried whether my friends and family would be ok and of course worried that I would potentially lose myself if I didn’t do something to keep myself busy. For me it was important to find out how everyone else was, safe to say that my phone, was my life line and yet again, York Road Project seemed to be like a holding hand of reassurance, regular updates on what was the right or wrong thing to do, letters posted through the door with facts that debunked the rumours and hearsay that the housemates may have read or heard from one of their friends or a member of their family.
For me I kept busy by getting into arts and crafts, I upcycled old clothing, looked at what I could repair or change and got a little creative. Keeping me sane was that hours walk we were still allowed to have so I used mine to escape from the house whilst being really mindful that I should avoid others and keep myself safe. It was sometimes hard to motivate the housemates but at least we got together and was doing something constructive together at times, having some social interaction and creating an opportunity for us to talk about how we all felt.
It was great that we were still connected, informed and part of York Road Project. Always forward thinking and considering what if it gets worse and what if it gets better the staff kept us updated not only on what was happening that may affect us but also what was happening to the others that many of us may have got to know through our journeys of homelessness. Now, as the country starts to get into a bit more
action I am back to walking the lakes twice a week ensuring people are not fishing and keeping it free of litter etc. It’s nice I can do this and feel like I am doing something other than focusing on myself and worrying about the others. This whole situation has, I feel given us a huge opportunity to put in place, more efficient infrastructure for those who are less fortunate and surely this, will now be an eye opener not only for our government but for the everyday person who may pass someone on the street who just needs that helping hand.