Callum, 23, left care at 18 and found a flat, but after some time the flat became unaffordable. After becoming homeless, his mental health then deteriorated to the point that he also lost his job. He used the Depaul UK Nightstop service before the charity offered him longer-term accommodation. With financial support from Depaul UK, he gained the qualifications needed to begin working for the fire service. His dream is to become a firefighter.
“As a young child I was in the care system. When I turned 18, I moved into my own flat, run by the local authority. I was on benefits, just scraping by. I did what I thought was the right thing to do and got a full-time job as a labourer. I was travelling from Oldham to Bury every day, getting up at 6am, getting to work for seven, working until half past four.
“Unfortunately, getting the job led to a spiral down. After a while, my rent went up and I couldn’t afford it on my income. I thought the job was more important, so I left my flat. That’s when I became homeless. I’d probably describe myself, at that time, as vulnerable. You’ve left a system where everything is in place for you, there’s safety nets there. Then you’ve been cast out into a world where there’s a lot to contend with.
“You’re scared, but also brave. I remember the period before having to move out. I was thinking, “Where am I going to go now? Where am I going to put all my belongings?” I stayed with mates, different people’s sofas. As much as they have your best interests at heart, they get a bit sick of you. Eventually, you’ve used up all your options. With everything that was going on, my mental health wasn’t in the best place, so that had an impact as well.
“I continued working for about four months after I left that flat. Having no fixed abode had an effect on me. I don’t mind sharing it, my mental health at the time wasn’t good. Quite a bit of depression. My employer laid me off, which meant I had to go back on benefits, which made the situation more difficult. It’s like a snowball effect.
“My local housing group put me into contact with Depaul UK. They got me into Nightstop. I was very apprehensive because you’re going to someone’s house, you’ve never met them before. Then I met my Nightstop host and she helped me to settle in really quick. Such a lovely woman. It was nice to go home and have somewhere secure, safe. Last week, I was in Tesco and I noticed this lady. It was Helen, my Nightstop host. We gave each other a hug and she asked how I was doing. She was really happy, really pleased.
“After two weeks, Depaul UK sorted out my own flat. I was there for about a year and a half. While I was there I was volunteering with the Fire Service, full-time. A job came up with the Fire Service, a full-time, permanent role, and I got it!
“My next step is to go for full-time firefighter and I need to have my GCSE Maths and English to do that. At Depaul UK, I was told about a grant I could apply for, for education purposes. I went for the grant, for private tutoring, and I got the full amount. Thanks to Depaul. That’s helped us as well.
“Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve always been really keen on helping people. I wanted to be a paramedic or a firefighter. Firefighting, it’s not just rescuing people, it’s the getting involved with your communities as well, supporting people who have been in the same situations as yourself. Giving back to society. I’m feeling good. The future is good, hopefully.”