Joe became homeless after leaving the British Army.
He returned home to Northern Ireland, but because of his service, was beaten and threatened with his life by local paramilitaries. He fled to England and slept rough for two years, during which time he felt ‘lost’.
“After being in the army and feeling like I contributed, I felt worthlessness… a total lack of pride.”
Christmas can be an especially painful reminder to many homeless people of their isolation. Joe remembers how hard it was spending Christmas Day alone “in a tent eating processed fast food, or whatever I could get my hands on. Your clothes are damp, it’s cold and miserable. You’re buying junk, rubbish, just something to fill your stomach.”
When Joe first moved into a hostel specifically for homeless ex-Services personnel, he began to feel hope, pleased to be around others who had similar experiences to his own.
Now he enjoys Christmas in the company of his peers at the hostel. They are able to cook a meal, sit down together, and exchange small gifts, thanks to your donations. “It was so nice to be in a warm, clean, comfortable environment, and knowing we could appreciate it together made us appreciate it more.”
These activities are vital to Joe because they instill self-worth in people. “These little ‘icings on the cake’ make it so important. They are totally essential to the process of recovery. If you haven’t got any self-worth, you won’t achieve anything.”
Thanks to your support, Joe was able to train in voiceover work and now takes on regular, paid projects. He also gained qualifications in Fire Safety, First Aid, and teaching, all with funding from your donations. He has already mentored two younger veterans and wants to pass on his new skills and confidence to others.
It also helped him to overcome some of the trauma of his past.
“It’s brought me back, stronger than before. I still have nightmares, Post-Traumatic Stress, and on some days I don’t really want to go outside. Now I have the tools to recognise and acknowledge it, and move forward in a positive way.”
“If you decide you want to engage you can achieve a considerable amount: you get out what you put in. You can learn to be self-sufficient and have the necessary skills and confidence to get back on civvy street.”
Joe has been able to move on and establish a home of his own with his dog Guinness.
Joe is just one example of someone whose life has been transformed by the opportunities and activities that Church Housing Trust funds with your donations. Moving beyond homelessness is much more than having a roof over your head; it is about establishing your foundations.