Transforming lives through offering food, shelter, hope and support to the most vulnerable in our community

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Sleeping Rough: Spike's Story

I've always lived in the Bristol area, but about six months ago I was made homeless. I had been living in a hostel for three years and then they just ejected me – I don’t know why. I ended up on the street.

I left the hostel and went downhill. I didn’t know about that side of life. I didn’t know what it was like to be homeless. I was sleeping here and there. I did a couple of nights at the skateboard park up by the big Tesco, some on park benches and some in the Bear Pit. Here, there and everywhere. Getting up in the morning, you’re trying to get warm because you’ve been cold all night. When it’s been raining, you’re also trying to get dry.

You take for granted the basic things like being able to brush your teeth, have a shower and have somewhere to go to the toilet. You also take for granted having somewhere to put your stuff. I was walking around with lots of plastic bags, feeling like some sort of baggage person.

I was homeless for about three months. It was one of the hardest times in my life. I have never been so cold and down about everything, my life and where I was. To go from having a room with a shower and toilet to nothing – it was horrible. It makes it harder that homeless people on the street are treated like scum. Anyone can end up on the street. You’re only one knock on the door away.

Eventually I found a room through an estate agent and the guy told me to go down to the council to get a reference so that they could give me the room. So I went down there and the person I talked to said that because I was a single man with no kids, no addiction or mental health problems, there was nothing they could do for me. He wouldn’t give me the reference! I’d spent days talking to the estate agent and at the very end I couldn’t get this piece of paper! I felt like swinging from a tree! I felt wounded that they wouldn’t give me this piece of paper that would have meant that I could stop being homeless. I was living on the streets, I had no money, I had nowhere to wash, I had nowhere to go to the toilet, I had nowhere to sleep, I was getting soaking wet every time it rains. How much lower could I get? How was I not a priority?

When the Salvation Army gave me a room, I sat on the bed and cried.

I found out about the Wild Goose from friends and other people on the street and the Compass Centre. When I see my key workers they tell me the places to get food and more help.

You’ve fed me, clothed me. I’ve used your shower. You’ve given me a rucksack, gloves and hat. You let me use your phone so that I could call doctors and job centres. Yesterday I came to see the doctor at your wet clinic. This morning I came here for my breakfast.

Without places like this it would just be horrible. What would you do? You would starve to death. I don’t even always eat a lot – often I just want some interaction. When you have been alone all night, or all week or all month with no one to chat to but yourself you can go crazy. I have a TV, but I still have no one. Even though I’m building my way back up slowly it still feels like I am by myself. 

My next step is to move out of the Salvation Army and to have somewhere with my own front door. It's a nice place to live but it’s very hectic, so I'm bidding for flats through the council.

The support for homeless people in Bristol is actually very good. But I think you have to want to do it. 

Do you want to help people like Spike? You can raise awareness and money for support services by joining us for the Sleep Out on 2nd March. Find out more here.

Posted: 14:40 on 20-02-18