Devastated after losing his job, family and home, Jamie ended up on the streets in Christmas 2017. After bouncing between services, he was housed in our supported accommodation in Lewisham. Less than a year later, Jamie was supported into his own bungalow and is now drawing on his experiences to help others through theatre workshops. Here reflects on his experiences in his own words.

For years, my life was great. Normal. I had a job; twenty-five years as a bus driver. I had a family; a wife and a young daughter. I had a home.

Then I just woke up one day and everything went wrong. I lost my job and then, a few months later my marriage ended. I had to leave the family home, so rented somewhere nearby for a few months. Without any income, my money was running out though. I was gambling away some of it. I think I was just lost and depressed, and eventually lost the place. With nowhere else to go, I ended up on the streets, sleeping rough.

That was December 2016. When I was sleeping rough, I didn’t speak to anyone. All I remember is getting takeaways and a bottle of something to keep me warm through the night.

Imagine that – working for 25 years with a family and a home, then suddenly, just like that, I had nothing.

Despite everything, I made sure to try and stay positive. I didn’t drink myself stupid. I knew help was out there and, after eight nights, I was picked up by No Second Night Out. I can’t even describe how elated I was when they turned up. I realised quickly you should never be too proud to accept help, so I took it.

Looking back, I think I was one of the lucky ones. Behind the scenes, my friends and family were doing everything to get me help.

I spent that Christmas in a night shelter – it wasn’t great. It’s just one room, where everyone sleeps on the floor with a blanket, but it was better than nothing.

I just missed my old life and family, especially my daughter. She’s only four years old – it’s probably the first Christmas she’ll remember. I managed to see her on Christmas Eve, but it was hard. I didn’t know when I was next going to see her. It definitely helped though as I decided I was going to change for her – she was my incentive to move on.

After that, a range of services supported me – it felt like I bounced around like a rubber ball for a few months.

Coming to SHP was the best thing for me because I knew I would get the support that I needed. The accommodation was semi-independent. It was the perfect balance; I had the support of a caseworker, but also enjoyed the freedom of being able to come and go as I wanted.

Coming to SHP was the best thing for me because I knew I would get the support that I needed. The accommodation was semi-independent. It was the perfect balance; I had the support of a caseworker, but also enjoyed the freedom of being able to come and go as I wanted.

After so many months, having my own place - with the facilities to cook for myself and live independently - really supported me to grow, and bring my confidence back. I feel like, mentally, my time there gave me the final stepping-stone out of homelessness.

It was so nice that I actually got a bit complacent and lost my focus to move to my own flat, but after six months, I felt ready to move on. With the help of my caseworker I applied to be placed in a house and within six weeks I got my first viewing. It was so exciting! The place was a nice bungalow in Sydenham, close to my daughter. I said that I would take it as soon as I saw it. I was so thrilled when it all got confirmed.

My caseworkers went above and beyond in helping me set up the property – the whole place needed to be re-done! I needed all the stuff for living so the manager supported me in getting grants for furniture and finding me a bed to sleep in. I spent Christmas 2017 sleeping on the floor again, but now I was in my own place.

I struggled at first to get used to paying rent and bills and generally keeping on top of my finances, but the team at SHP did everything they could to help. It was great that I still felt supported when I was in my flat – I knew I would not be alone if things started to go wrong for me again.

Now I’m independent again, I’m pursuing my passions. I see my daughter every weekend – take her swimming, or to a dance/drama class. Christmases will be different now. I make them special for her.

Two years ago, I couldn’t imagine this would be what I’m doing, but my experience has given me a new perspective on life.

I now volunteer with Displace Yourself, a theatre company I was working with during my time at SHP. I help run their theatre workshops, using my experience to help others facing homelessness including SHP residents. I know how important it is to keep people positive and motivated to move on themselves.

Two years ago, I couldn’t imagine this would be what I’m doing, but my experience has given me a new perspective on life. I lost everything at the drop of a hat, hit rock bottom and it made me realise that it can happen to anyone. It’s my chance to give something back and I’m really enjoying it.