I came to Windsor with a friend two or three years ago, from London. I did have a flat in London, but ever since coming out of prison, I’ve found it difficult staying indoors. It felt easier to sleep rough than to be trapped inside again. I just didn’t know how to have a flat, or how to live indoors. After a while, I lost that flat.
For a while, I went back and forth to London, to help look after my brother who wasn’t well. When he was taken into hospital for long-term treatment in January 2020, I came to Windsor for good. I slept outside the Windsor Guildhall. During the day I would sit in town, and read. I was begging, more for something to do than anything else. At this time, I was using every day.
My friend brought me to WHP, and I would come and have lunch, and chat to people. I met Aggie, who was my support worker at Resilience (the drug and alcohol service). She worked with me on my mindset – on focussing on small steps forward, and making progress over time. She helped me come up with a plan to slowly reduce my usage, which I’ve been doing ever since.
I also started speaking to Steve, the WHP counsellor. I talked to him about my life in the past, about the things that had happened, and brought me here. That helped a lot.
In March 2020, everyone was given a room because of Covid. I stayed in a guest house for a little while, and then in a shared house in Wraysbury. That’s where I met Jeremy (a WHP volunteer and trustee). He would pop in to deliver food, and check on everyone in the house. When WHP reopened in July, he would drive us to Windsor. We’d chat and I told him about my life. He’s helped me with lots of things this year.
Recently, I moved into a flat of my own. I’m a bit more comfortable being indoors now. I’ve got the flat nearly how I like it – I’ve painted it and WHP helped get me furniture and appliances, and a new carpet. It’s my place now. I can shut the door, and just be me.
Nick (WHP’s manager) and Jeremy have been helping me with my money, making sure I’m paying my bills. I’ve never learnt any of that stuff before. All my money just got spent. If it was just me, nothing would have been paid. I’m learning it all now – learning about the responsibility.
I’ve started helping out at the Project now. It started off as me wanting to pay Jeremy back for all his help. Now I help out most weeks – and it feels good to give back.
I still slip up from time to time. I feel guilty when I do that – because I know it’s not what I want. I know I’ve still got a way to go. My health still isn’t great – but I feel so much better now.
I’m not sure what the future holds yet. I’ll let you know.