After leaving home as a teenager, Marek found himself living on the streets for most of his adult life. 

“I grew up in Wanstead and underwent trauma as a child. My response to this was to try and run away. It’s only recently that I was diagnosed PTSD which explains why I was trying to escape from the age of nine. I’ve always been on the move. 

“With all the time outside I took up rock climbing and became good enough to join a mountain rescue team. But I couldn’t commit. I had to keep running away. I took up drumming and became very skilled at it but my mental health stopped me pursuing a career in music. 

I felt terrible but couldn’t get any help. It’s really difficult to get support when you don’t have a fixed address. I lived in squats and was exploited by people. I’d sign up to take on jobs and would be promised payment but it would never materialise. I never felt safe.” 

Since Marek has been supported by SHP, he has moved into his own flat and is getting treatment for his PTSD. 

“I was in Redbridge when I came into contact with SHP. My living situation was very unsettled. I had spent time in a council hostel and living in a flat with someone that exploited me but I kept going back to sleeping rough in a tent. My support worker Jerry came into contact with me and when they saw how desperate my situation had become, I was in a flat in a week. This happened a year ago. 

“Now that I have my own place I have finally got the space to feel safe and work on my PTSD. It’s given me the time to process the diagnosis. It’s been phenomenal for my mental health. When you’re homeless, all you can focus on is whether you’re going to get food, whether your feet will be warm and whether you can access to a safe place to sleep. These are no longer worries for me.  

“I am getting treated and I am very grateful. I am being given the tools to start dealing with flashbacks. Without a base, none of this could have been addressed. I never got to finish any formal education but now I love reading philosophy. I’m really enjoying having the time to sit and study it. I finally have control.”