Lewis didn’t have an easy start to life. He was placed into care when he was born as his father’s history of violence meant that he wouldn’t be safe at home. At the age of five, he returned home to live with his mother and remained there until he was ten, when he moved in with his grandmother. He lived with her up until her death when he was fifteen.   

It was around this time that Lewis was diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder. He was in and out of his mother’s house up to the age of 17 when, during a manic episode, he caused some damage to the family home and was arrested after his mother kicked him out.  

The following years were hard for Lewis. By the time he was referred to Depaul House when he was 21, he’d already spent time homeless, in rehab for drug use, and had become a father of two. 

Having lived in Whitley Bay his whole life, Lewis already knew of Depaul House, which has been part of the community for thirty years now. His brother had lived in the supported accommodation before, and he was familiar with members of the staff already. Still, it’s always hard to adjust to such changes, and Lewis spent the first week in his room, unsure if he belonged there or not. 

 “Everyone has a rocky start when they first come in,” Lewis says. “And then you realise that  there’s a pool table. There’s stuff to do. If you want to talk to staff, staff are on 24/7. There’s no point in locking yourself in a room. You come downstairs, you go play pool, talk to the staff. You’ve got to actually talk to them and that’s what I learned as soon as I come in.” 

“All the staff team at Depaul UK are absolutely amazing. When I came here, they were just talking about everything that went on in my life, if I wanted to express it. How I coped with my mental health and stuff like that. And honestly, if it wasn’t for Gillian, who is the manager here, and Ross, and all the staff team, honestly, they’re absolutely amazing.” 

So much has changed for Lewis since moving into Depaul House. He used to drink every day but hasn’t touched alcohol since he’s moved in. Now he prefers hitting the gym. “Now I’ve come here, I’ve completely changed,” Lewis attests. “ I wake up in the morning and then look at my phone and then I look at the kids on my phone. I’m like, well, there you go. I know if them kids see me down, then it’s not gonna work out.” 

Jill Robinson, the North Tyneside Pathway manager, says the change in Lewis has been remarkable: “You can have a laugh with him and he’s so caring. He’s been a really good mentor in the house to the other young people. “He’s doing really well, and I couldn’t be prouder. I just know he’s going to go far in life.” 

Now Lewis is already working on his move-on plan. He wants to use his experiences to help people who might be going through similar circumstances, maybe working on a mental health call team to provide 24/7 support for people in crisis. 

It’s work he’s already shown an interest in, surprising staff with the amount of time he gives to the residents of Depaul House, providing them with support with issues they might be facing. Recently, he stepped in to help a young person experiencing severe depression, giving guidance and advice. 

“I like helping people,” says Lewis. “I’ve got that mental capacity to actually talk to people. I know it’s going to be difficult, but everyone does get there in the end.”