Kept off the streets by Bristol City Council and the Salvation Army

Next time you hear about the Salvation Army and think about religion, marching bands and small bags and envelopes through your door, spare a thought for what they actually do. As some followers of this blog will be aware, I have had a torrid time over the last couple of years and this has had an awful effect on my mental health. It recently reached the point where my partner reached the point where she couldn’t cope with it any longer and gave me the ultimatum. “Sort yourself out, get a job or get out!” I won’t criticise her too heavily for her decision. The strain that my condition has put on our relationship has been unbearable for us both and neither of us seemed truly happy.

With no money, quite the inverse in the form of a maxed out overdraft because I’ve still been paying the bills while not earning for the last few months, I am left in a dire situation. I have nowhere to go, at present, no money and do not have the strength to survive on the streets in my deeply depressed state. I’ve gone from earning around £30k pa in various IT roles, to destitute in around 4 months. Thankfully I had already been referred to the Bristol Mental Health crisis team, yesterday, by the Police as a result of a brother calling them with concerns for my safety. I have been feeling suicidal for some weeks now.

Today I attended the Bristol City Council citizen service offices, or whatever the. overall office calls itself. The staff there have been immensely helpful and compassionate. I arrived in something of a daze, but the team have guided me through the process of getting some crisis money to feed myself, have ensured that I am sheltered for the night and given me a plan to work to. They have done all the form-filling, asked the right questions and applied my answers to the system. I have been amazed by them, to be honest.

Tomorrow I will need to start the application process for some kind of benefits, likely ESA or something. I am not able to work at the moment and will need some extensive mental health assistance to get me back to a place where I will be fit for work. Thankfully the Mental Health Crisis team have got the ball rolling for me. I still feel bitter that if the NHS and its Mental Health services were properly funded, I may have been successfully treated a long time ago. This would have been humane for me and cost effective, in the long run, for the government.

I hope that on Friday I can get myself onto the housing lists, to be eligible for Council / Housing association accommodation. The strain of paying private rental fees in the past has been quite debilitating during stressful times, such as when facing redundancy. My soul needs some housing stability. Privately renting, as I have for several years, has been expensive and very unstable as rented properties were sold by their owners.

I don’t have much of a support network in Bristol, to be fair. I have actually come to dislike the City and its grime (as in filth, dirt, pollution) and divisions. I know there will be no social housing in Bristol, I’ve already been told that. So I may explore the option of asking to be considered for Trowbridge and surrounding areas, as I have a younger brother there who has also suffered mental health issues and to his credit has come through some incredibly tough times, a lot better than I am. He has offered me that branch of support and is encouraging me to move there.

Although being in the environment that surrounds this hostel is actually pretty distressing to me, I am grateful for the assistance that everybody involved today have given me. I know I would have taken a drastic step earlier today, if it wasn’t for them. I still face a huge uphill struggle, even to reach a place where I can start to focus on my mental health recovery and hopefully effective treatment. All along though, I will continue to shout out for people in this position.  I REALLY do know what it is like now.

When I started my blog and before that, my twitter account, with the name “It Could Be You”, it was with the view that anybody could end up suffering from depression, for one reason or another.

The moniker has expanded itself, with my own life experiences. Having stable, well paid jobs in the past, afforded me the luxury of knowing it was highly unlikely that I would find myself in the position that I currently do. Oh wow, have my eyes been opened. Once I have the strength, energy and capacity to do so, I will be finding ways that I can make real differences for people in this position and maybe even try to help avoid it happening in the first place.

I worked as a support worker in the learning disabilities and autism fields, to give something back, several years ago.  I could not survive on the salary, so I moved back into my usual IT fields, but in the same social care sector. I hope that when I’m well enough, I might find a path into another much needed part of the social care sector. Homelessness and protection of society’s vulnerable. Just the sort of person that I am now.

We need to change the system in the UK. We need a socialist Labour government. Read more on my political views in this blog post.

Recommended next article:

It’s a hostel life for us
Life in a hostel and updates on the attempt to get life back on track.


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