Joe’s Story

My life just went on a downhill spiral – I hit the drugs, the drink to numb the pain. I don’t remember how long I was homeless. About 19 years, mostly sleeping rough but occasional sofa-surfing. I always worried that my dog might be nicked. That’s my biggest fear. I couldn’t lose him; he helps with my mental health. I look after the dog better than I do myself. Animals have been better to me than people have.

I’ve been coming to St Clare’s Community Hub for about 8 years. I come here every day. I like having a laugh with them, but they really care. It’s taken me many years to ask for help. I’d stand outside before and have breakfast in the car park with Claire (Worthing Community Hub Manager).

“Even if I’m not in a good place I know I can come here, and Claire will know how to support me.”

My post is sent here because I have dyslexia and they explain what I need to do. I can access everything from St Clare’s. They’re everything rolled into one.

Claire goes to every appointment with me and gives me moral support, asking questions for me and explaining things. People make judgements, even professionals, and it helps to have her there making sure they understand me. One doctor told me if I stopped drinking everything would be fine. But if I stopped drinking it would kill me.

“During Covid I met Claire outside so we could be socially distanced. If St Clare’s hadn’t been open there’d have been a lot of deaths.”

When you’re homeless, no-one wants anything to do with you. They assume we’re all junkies but we’re not. If you spent a week on the streets with me, you’d understand. We get spat on, urinated on, set on fire. No-one sees that side of it. People just pass by, tarring you with the same brush. We still bleed the same, we’re humans too.

“Having a roof over my head now means I don’t have to sleep half-awake worrying about what might happen.”

I don’t have to risk my health anymore. I hope to have my family visit me soon.

Once Claire helps me get my health sorted, I have plans to get excited about. I really want to go to John O’Groats. Then I’ll have been to the furthest points of this country.

I wanted to share my story so that people can understand and treat us like human beings.