Daniel tells his story in his own words:
My name is Daniel and I’m 21 years old. I’ve been living at Depaul’s Simonside House in Newcastle for three months after I was thrown out of my house.
Before I was homeless and needing support, I lived in Scotland where I had my own flat and a job as a chef. I lived with my partner and we had a very comfortable existence. I came back to Newcastle because my mum became very ill. She suffers from alcoholism and we were told that she needed an organ transplant.
Once I was back in Newcastle, my life seemed to fall apart. My mum got better but we fell out and the rest of my family backed my mum so I was alone. I started taking "legal highs" and my life went downhill from there. Legal highs are drugs that simulate similar effects to illegal drugs such as cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy.
They are not meant for human consumption and not a lot is known about the effects they have.
Soon all I cared about was smoking drugs, and I couldn’t keep my benefits in order or pay my rent. I was thrown out of my flat and had nowhere to go and no family to turn to. I started sleeping rough on the streets in the city centre.
It was really unsafe. I remember dark, dank and cold nights where drunk people would kick and abuse me. People would go through my pockets while I was asleep and steal stuff. Someone even tried to set me on fire. To make money, I turned to begging in the streets of Newcastle and shoplifting and because of this my criminal record began to grow.
After eight months of sleeping on the streets I went to housing advice and they told me about Depaul UK. I applied and was so excited when they said they had a room for me in Simonside House. Since moving here I haven’t looked back. Things have been a lot better.
* The image used with this story is for illustration and is not of the person featured.
The staff have helped me with everything really, including sorting out my benefits and finances, which has helped me to stop shoplifting, and helping me focus on my health.
My keyworker is great. We meet every week and I really trust her. She’s helped me sort out my benefit payments and makes sure I go to all of my appointments. She’s also referred me to services that can help me with my drug dependency and has told me about how bad it is for my health.
It’s the first time anyone has really cared about me.
I started sessions with a drug worker and we are working towards me stopping using legal highs. My keyworker has helped me meet all the conditions of my probation and stop me getting in any more trouble with the law. I’ve even started to have contact with my mum again and I’m hopeful that this will continue in a positive way.
In the future I just want all anybody wants really - a steady job and a nice place to call home.