D’s Story – Life on the Outside
“I’m in my forties now and have spent over 20 years in prison. When I was released, I was like a rabbit caught in the headlights. So much had changed on the outside, it was completely overwhelming. I had no family I could stay with, so for the first few months I lived in a temporary hostel in Windsor. During this time, I was put in touch with the Windsor Homeless Project. They helped me approach the Council to register as homeless and together with my probation officer tried to get me on the priority housing list. I had almost daily meetings with the Housing Department and became frustrated by the lack of support and empathy shown towards me. On the day I left the hostel I had nowhere to go but was told about the Windsor Night Shelter which had just opened for the winter. During the day I would walk the streets of Windsor trying to keep warm and dry until I could go back to the shelter at night. I really thought this was going to be my life and could see no positive future. The Windsor Homeless Project team supported me massively during this dark time. I had a hot meal three times a week, clean clothes, somewhere safe in the day to rest for a few hours and people who understood my needs.
I’ve been coming here for over a year now and it’s true to say that without their support, I would not be where I am today. A few weeks ago, I received keys to a housing association flat. It had nothing in it then but that didn’t matter – it was finally a home of my own! Now I’m gradually making it mine through kind donations from the Project. I still pop in to see Nick, Sally and the team who continue to help, giving me advice about setting up home, paying bills, managing my finances etc. The future is looking good, I plan to start looking for work and finally begin enjoying life on the outside.”