A sudden increase in pressure, like the breakdown of a marriage, can force people into homelessness. Michael moved across the ocean to be with his wife but when things didn’t work out, he began suffering from depression. He returned to London and lived on his brother’s sofa, feeling the walls close in around him. 

Michael is an artist. Single Homeless Project helped him tap into this and use it as therapy to work through the trauma he’d been through. He now has hopes of doing an exhibition of his work around the 70s and his childhood.  

“I moved to America after meeting my wife and I enjoyed living there, but I soon found out that she was very controlling. She didn’t want me to have any friends – male or female – and that’s when my depression started. It got to the point when even talking to friends on Whatsapp would cause an argument, so I knew I had to leave and come back here. 

“Luckily, my brother picked me up, so I had somewhere to stay. When I was back, the depression really kicked in. I had underestimated how much my marriage meant to me. Nothing helped and I just kept on sinking lower and lower, I was in a spiral. Some days I didn’t even wash or get dressed. I started drinking beer during the day. Looking back, I think I was grieving. My brother would come home and say, “What the hell are you doing Michael?” I didn’t know. I even tried to commit suicide – I didn’t actually want to do it, it was just a call for help. 

“After two years living on the sofa like that, I went to the GP for help. He suggested I talk to the Council and that led me to Single Homeless Project and they helped me to start putting myself back together. 

“I had gone so downhill that I’d stopped painting. For the last 27 years, art had been consistent in my life. I started in 1991 after my mum died, using it as therapy and it just grew from there. It’s a big part of my story and I wouldn’t be here without it. Single Homeless Project helped me to use art as therapy again. 

Two years ago, it was almost like I was like Lego pieces – all scattered. Lost. Thanks to Single Homeless Project, I’ve started to build myself back together.

“I then started to do things like go to coffee mornings and trips; met new people; improved my skills and did a bit of volunteer cooking. I began dealing with my mental health at a therapy group and my support worker helped me with my CV and confidence. The best thing Single Homeless Project did was finding me this flat. I’ve not had my own place for 18 years. On the day I moved in, I just shut the door and cried. 

“I’m still at the start of my journey, but I feel my old confidence is back. And my ambitions, which I lost. Of course, becoming a professional artist is the dream. I’ve got hopes of doing an exhibition around the 70s, around my childhood. I have dreams of getting an art studio in Ilford. 

“Two years ago, it was almost like I was like Lego pieces – all scattered. Lost. Thanks to Single Homeless Project, I’ve started to build myself back together.”