TJ Lewis’ Story – Divorced & Vulnerable
I was married and living in Yorkshire with a good job but my marriage went sour and the domestic situation became unbearable. I felt threatened by my stepson and could not live in that environment. Six months later I was divorced and moved south. I suffered from depression and anxiety. As it was my decision to leave, I found it very difficult to get any help so I slept in the garage to start with and then a friend let me stay on his sofa.
I spent 16 months sofa surfing or in a tent but was still unable to get any help as I was not considered vulnerable enough, although I had been diagnosed as depressed. It was a very difficult time.
Someone overheard me talking and directed me to the Windsor Homeless Project. I spoke to the manager there. He and the volunteers welcomed me with practical and emotional help. I was supported into a homeless shelter in Southall. Eventually with help from the Project, and other agencies they work with, I managed to get into renting a property. But although I was in accommodation I was still depressed. So it was good to know I could still come into the Project for a meal and a chat and to get support both physically and psychologically.
Since July 2018 I have been back to work part time as a cleaner. It means I can work on my own which suits me. I wanted to show my appreciation for the help I’ve been given and so I’ve organised a couple of fundraisers at the pub where I work. I’m a musician and persuaded other acts to come and give their time to entertain people and raise money for the project. It felt good to do this. I’m in a much better place now and have changed my name to TJ Lewis as I am leaving my difficult past behind – this is the new me. I still have to take care but I know that the people at the project are always there for me.