Finn, 25, moved to London on his own last year. After being promised a place to stay, he quickly realised that the accommodation wasn’t safe. He became homeless, after being pressured to take drugs and engage in sexual activity.  

“I moved to London last year. I liked the idea of the opportunities that London could provide. I connected with some people and someone offered me a place stay. My expectation was to find a room, and find a job and make my life in London. Things didn’t exactly play out like that.”

“It turned out I didn’t actually get a room, I got a cupboard under the stairs. Initially, I thought I could handle it and I had it under control but then everything started to fall apart. It was a very sharp decline.”

“The environment I was living in wasn’t a stable one. I eventually rigged up some chains which made the door lockable. But it was never private. It got more unsafe over time and I got sexually assaulted. It made it impossible to live there.”

“I didn’t really feel like I had anywhere else to go at the time. I didn’t want to feel like I’d failed at London, but I also didn’t really have anywhere else to go. My family knew I was in London. But they didn’t know the situation I was in.”

Finn was eventually referred to Hotel 1824, Depaul’s youth-specific emergency accommodation and support service. The service is for young people who would otherwise be sleeping rough on the streets.

“I remember getting there, and I was like- I’ve got an entire room! And a bathroom! For myself. I had such a good night’s sleep. For the first time in a long time, I felt safe. It was nice. It made me feel like a person. I felt a bit more normal.”

“This was the big turning point for me, it was a breathing space from all the stress. The support there was incredible, I started to feel like myself again. It was a key factor towards rebuilding my confidence and beginning to heal the scars on my mental health.”

“ I am now in a privately rented room. I’ve got my own room with a lock on the door. I’m happy in my room. I also work in Gail’s bakery, in the kitchen there.”

“Depaul showed such genuine compassion and understanding, in their eyes I wasn’t a failure and I wasn’t a burden, I was a person in need and it was okay. Realising that these people actually cared and believed I was worth helping was so empowering. I found the willpower to keep fighting and surviving.”

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