News & stories Real stories Celal's story Celal had built a life for himself in London. He had friends, a flat, and was working as an actor. But it all fell apart during the pandemic. His work ran out, and as he wasn’t a British citizen at the time, he wasn’t entitled to claim benefits. Celal felt he had nowhere else to turn and started sleeping on our city’s streets. We offered Celal a place to regroup, giving the support he needed to get back on his feet. Now, he's pursuing his passion for acting again and hoping to star in a full-length film. “Life was going great. I had a flat in Primrose Hill, I was working as a corporate actor and had a producer job as well. Homelessness wasn’t something I ever expected. But as soon as the pandemic hit, my work stopped, my savings dried up and I couldn’t pay my rent.” “I went to the Council for support. But I was still waiting for my citizenship to come through, so I couldn’t claim benefits and wasn’t entitled to any other support. “I’ve been living in London for 8 years; it’s my home. I’ve got family back in Turkey, but I don’t want to go back. I didn’t even tell my family when I became homeless. The only place I could turn to was the streets.” Despite having lived and worked in the UK for years, Celal wasn’t entitled to welfare support – a situation called ‘no recourse to public funds. Thousands of people pushed into homelessness every year are in a similar situation. With no safety net to fall back on when a crisis hits, these people have no choice but to rough sleep – and are often trapped there long-term. “I was rough sleeping on and off for over two years. I mostly slept in parks when I could. But finding somewhere to sleep was a struggle every night. I would get kicked out of places early in the morning and forced to bed down elsewhere.” "People would give me strange looks and look down on me; I didn't feel like a human." "I had some savings left to survive, but mainly just made ends meet. I used Too Good To Go to buy food, eating one big meal a day. And I was told about places where I could shower and clean while on the streets. It was hard, but I made it work.” After his British citizenship came through, Celal was entitled to support. He was found by Routes of the Streets outreach team and was referred to our Camden Rough Sleepers Hub. We supported him with what he needed most: a place to recover, rebuild his life, and begin pursuing his childhood dream of acting again. "The minute I walked into my hostel room; I was amazed. The room was massive and had really high ceilings. I was so happy to be there." “The staff really cared for me, and there were many good people who would go above and beyond for me.” “I was there for about two months but could’ve stayed for years; it was like a hotel. The chef, James, at the hostel made the tastiest food. It could be Michelin star-worthy.” “I will always be thankful for the people that helped me get into housing and supporting me through my journey.” After a short stay at the hostel, we supported Celal into his own self-contained hostel studio in Camden. There he’s building the skills needed for independent living and has access to tailored on-site support. “It’s great to have my own place. I miss all the wonderful staff at Single Homeless Project, but I’m very happy with where I am now. “My life is stable for the first time in years. I no longer worry about where I am going to sleep and if I’m going to have enough money to eat. “And I’ve started doing some acting work. I’m learning the piano. It’s all coming back.” “I still have a few of the habits I picked up from the streets – I wake up a lot during the night, I still eat one big meal. But finally feels like my life is normal again.” In just a few months, Celal went from an actor with a flat in one of the most expensive areas in London to sleeping on our city’s streets. Homelessness can happen to anyone, but with the right support, it can be ended. Every year we support over 10,000 Londoners out of homelessness and into a place to call home, for good.