Derege, 53, lost his job and his home when the pandemic struck. With nowhere to go, he found himself on the streets.  

“I was a carer before coronavirus hit, but I lost all my clients when we went into lockdown and I couldn’t pay my rent. I didn’t know what to do and ended up sleeping rough in Brixton. Being on the streets was tough. I just didn’t know what to do to get out. I didn’t have a way to make money and rent somewhere to live so I was completely stuck. It’s hard to keep your dignity when youre sleeping rough and it was even harder over lockdown because even places like public toilets were shut. It was a very dark time. 

“I was found by Streetlink after a few weeks and ended up staying in a hotel in Clapham for a short while before I was referred to SHP where I met my support worker Emily. She helped me find a flat and I had a roof over my head soon after. I was amazed at how quickly it all happened! 

Now that Derege has a home, he is looking forward to what happens next and hoping for a new start in 2021. 

“I’m excited to start supporting myself again. I’m on some courses to learn new skills which can hopefully help me secure a job. I’m particularly interested in construction. I actually have a degree in civil engineering so I have an understanding of the industry. I’m doing a construction course and hope that that can lead somewhere but I’m also keeping my options open – I've even been thinking of becoming a bus driver! 

“I also hope that I can do some charity work in the future because I know how important it is to help others. My experiences this year have definitely made that clear. Emily has been on hand to help me sort myself out and I want to be able to provide that support to others too. 

“Christmas is a very important time of the year for me as a Christian. After such a crazy year, I am very grateful to have a place to call home where I can be for the festive period. It will give me the time and space to reflect on everything.” 

Helps us support more homeless Londoners off the streets this winter