Joe, 25, was living and working in Barcelona when family illness brought him home to the UK again. Struggling to find anywhere to live and trying to pursue his dream of making films and music, Depaul UK helped him find accommodation and supported him to apply for a grant for young musicians.
“I’ve lived on my own since my late teens. I’ve always been surrounded by a lot of violence, crime and gangs. As a teenager, I felt a lot of pressure from it. I got my own flat when I was 19, through the council, then started studying and working for the college as well. When I was 22 I was living on my own in a council flat, studying film-making and working on my first album.
“I decided to move to Barcelona to direct a film and to manage a band. At the same time, my granddad was going through cancer and was getting treatment for that. My sister had attempted suicide five times and my other sister had just had another kid. My dad has severe mental health issues, severe schizophrenia and depression. And he’s an alcoholic, so he’s just never really there. I just felt a bit disconnected, so I thought I needed to come back to England.
“I struggled to integrate back into the system. I was in debt with the council from before I left, so I couldn’t get housing from them . They won’t touch you if you have that. I didn’t have family I can stay with, I didn’t have savings. So I stayed on friends’ sofas from January until maybe March, before I found out who Depaul are.
“I started using the Nightstop service [Depaul UK’s emergency accommodation service, through which young people at risk of homelessness can stay with specially trained, volunteer hosts]. I’m grateful for Nightstop. I stayed with five different families, night to night. Not sure how long I was at Nightstop, maybe five weeks.
“I got a grant from a charity for young musicians, but I still couldn’t get a place to live because I couldn’t get a guarantor. I had the money but couldn’t find anywhere to live. I even found some nice landlords, who seemed willing, but they did a check on me and they weren’t willing to take me, even though I could pay two or three months’ rent up front.
“Coming from a background surrounded by poverty, there was a lot of things I didn’t have. I feel like I’m forever trying to get out of that. I want to get out of that. Writing music is everything. I don’t know if I’d be alive if I didn’t write music. So if I can help other people understand that that’s an outlet for their problems, then that’s what I want to do. I want to put an album out and I’d like to be involved in making a short film. I don’t want to put down the camera.
“In all that time, I spoke to a few different homelessness organisations but Depaul UK was the only one that actually did things, not just spoke about it. When no one else would rent to me, I ended up taking a Depaul flat for the summer. It kept me going until I started university. Without that, I don’t know what I would have done.”