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I’m 21 today and life is worth living now

“A few weeks ago when I was 20 I was living in a s*******, with no running water, rats, black mould, spiders nests, no heating, no cooker and broken doors.

I had been there a year and a half. I had to move into it as I had 24 hours to find somewhere and I was desperate. The place was so cold I spent all my time in bed. It was above a row of shops and all the flats were abandoned or boarded up. I had drug addicts trying to walk into the house and hanging around outside. I did report things to the landlord but he just told me to ‘sort it’.

I was living in hell

I was at my lowest, very depressed, not eating or sleeping, I was embarrassed of where I lived so never had anyone round, and felt like I was living in hell with no other option.

I was referred to Humankind by my Probation Worker and the Crisis Team who I was working with as I had tried to kill myself in the flat on multiple occasions and self-harmed many times.

Claire and Karen came to see me in my flat and saw how bad it was. They got the Fire Brigade round who said they were afraid I would die of hypothermia in there and they gave me some blankets and heaters, and they also got Environmental Health round to see the state of the property who then contacted the landlord and ordered him to sort things out. He did come round but only did a few things. There was too much to do to make a difference.

A new home

Claire and Karen reassured me they would find me somewhere decent to live and that I would be getting out of there. They promised me and they did. They got me a new home within two weeks of seeing me.

When I walked into my new home I thought ‘it’s like moving from a crack den to a mini mansion’. Everything was clean and warm and I had water! I had the human essentials.

Since then I have been working with Claire and feel that I’ve improved mentally in terms of motivation because of my home. I’m now setting my mind towards goals. I’m eating healthily, and I have cupboards and wardrobes which is a big thing when you haven’t had them. Somewhere to put things. I have furniture which Claire helped me get in a house I can call a home.

Claire has also helped sort all my benefits out, helped me get PIP back which has just been backdated today and helped with all my Housing Benefit and everything. She has also given me lots of emotional support.

I’m 21 today and life is worth living now compared to what it was. Last year I was on the verge of suicide 3 times a week. I was scared to go to sleep on a night, now I’m not. This is due to Humankind helping me, knowing I have help and support. They have changed me from what I was to who I am now in a month and a half.”

Gavin Bywater – Middlesbrough Support for All 38038

Humankind Worker comments – We contacted a good landlord we know who doesn’t normally accept young people, but persuaded him to at least meet Gavin and then make his mind up. After meeting him, he could see that he deserved a chance of a decent home, and offered him a lovely property. Without the relationships we have built with landlords this would have been much harder

When I first saw the appalling conditions Gavin was living in I found it very upsetting. I had never seen anything quite so bad. I am so proud of him and how much has changed in such a short time. Gavin is a lovely young man. I’m so pleased I got to work with him and help him improve his life. Gavin’s support is ongoing and we still have issues to address but we are in a much better place to be able to do this.