"A phone call from Porchlight saved my life"

20 July 2015

Last year Dan, 29, was living on the streets. Exhausted, desperate and looking for a way out, he says a phone call from Porchlight saved his life. “It was November and I knew how much colder it was going to get and I just couldn’t face it,” he says. “Christmas was around the corner, and I didn’t see the point of carrying on. I wanted to end it all.”

The call was from one of our hostels, giving Dan the news that he had a room. When Dan arrived, he found he’d been assigned a self-contained flat. “I cried when I saw it,” he remembers. “I just couldn’t believe it.”

Eight months on and he’s turning things around. He’s taking part in Porchlight activities, including residential trips and cooking sessions. He’s house rep for his hostel and regularly volunteers for allotment and gardening projects, as well as sessions at a local substance misuse agency.

He’s moving forward but Dan has some complex issues to deal with. He had an extremely traumatic childhood – a carer for his mother who has serious mental health problems and responsible for his younger sister from a very young age, his life was chaotic and violent. He did well at school – “it was safer than being at home” – but his feelings of fear and anger eventually led him down a different path. At the age of 21, he was sentenced to six years in prison, an experience that left him with further emotional scars.

“When I was released from prison, I went back to my mum’s but her problems had got so bad, she ended up being sectioned,” he explains. “The house was repossessed and I had nowhere to go. I slept on mates’ sofas for a while but you can’t do that forever and I found myself on the streets.”

“Everything feels calmer”

Dan was a regular visitor at the Gap day centre in Broadstairs and it was there that he first met one of our rough sleeper workers. The practical help he so desperately needed came just in time and Dan says he hasn’t looked back. “I get involved with everything I can at Porchlight because I’m so grateful for what I’ve been given,” he says. “My support worker Andy feels like a big brother to me – he’s tough and he doesn’t take any nonsense but he listens and he understands. Everything just feels so much calmer now.”

Andy says that Dan is committed to changing his lifestyle. “He knows there is a better life out there and he’s working hard to achieve his goal of being in his own secure accommodation.

“He gets involved with our organised activities to keep himself busy and safe and he’s tackling his recovery head-on. He knows what he wants and how to achieve it – he just needs to stay focused to keep making positive progress.”

Dan says that he hopes to move into voluntary, and ultimately paid work for an organisation that helps people in his situation. “It’s time for me to give something back.”