Alex’s story

12 Nov 2019
Alex, who slept rough in Cardiff, has worked with our Peer Mentor Team. He now lives in a Wallich shared house.

Read his inspiring journey and his new positive outlook for the future.

“I was homeless for five months after coming out of jail.

I was all over the place, sleeping rough, begging, doing drugs – I was on the spice. If I had to describe that time, I’d say: desperate, hopeless, suicidal.

Getting off the streets

I knew AJ [Peer Mentor Team] from before, I’ve known him for a long time actually. I didn’t recognise the person he’d become because I know about his past and his experiences with drugs. I couldn’t get my head around how much he’d changed.

AJ kept inviting me to these coffee mornings. Having people come to me and consistently telling me about help I could get made a real difference.

I went and, looking back on those coffee mornings now, I’d come in with a bag of clothes, unhygienic, and I’d see AJ, how far he’s come, how different he looks and speaks, and how he’s helping other people, I was blown away.

With the help of AJ and the team, because it’s more than just one person, my life is completely different.

Without the team, I would probably still be out there doing spice. They help keep my mind focused on the future.

The coffee mornings were the perfect environment because all the people I needed were under one roof – The Wallich, the council, mental health, drug workers.

Keeping off the streets

Now I’m living in a Wallich shared house and it’s leaps and bounds better than where I was.

When you’re out there on the streets, you’re exposed. There’s no boundaries, no privacy and no routine. Society can just do what it wants with you. You don’t have much control.

Having a room to myself accelerated my good habits. I have a space to get into my exercise training and eating the right food.

Training is important to me because it affects you mentally, your confidence, your posture. It’s giving me tangible goals to keep me occupied and something to work towards.

Body, mind and soul – you can’t forget about either one and keeping that in mind is keeping me positive, moving forward. AJ has given me loads of advice.

Support and recovery

AJ is loyal and has gone the extra mile to help me. If he can’t do something for me, he’ll find me someone that can.

It’s all helped with my recovery. I’m passing drug tests which is really promising. I just need to keep good people around me, with good hearts, in good places. That means the world.

The aftercare is crucial after being homeless then getting a room because you might go back to being homeless. You might just sit there, bored, watching telly and you’ll use drugs again.

Now I’ve got my own room, I look better because I can wash. I just feel loads better.

Getting a room and working with the team, I feel now like someone has seen the potential in me.

It’s like when you see a house in rubble; loads of people might walk past thinking it’s just a pile of rubbles, just rubbish. But one person might see potential to gather up the rubble and build a mansion.

I’m focusing right now on the day-to-day, keeping focused, but I have a general idea about the future.

I’d like to go into similar peer mentor work. People on the streets need to see people like us. We need to utilise the stories of success and I want to be part of that.

AJ, Alex’s peer support, had this to say:

“I just opened the door for Alex and maybe opened his eyes – he’s done all the hard work himself.

His journey has been phenomenal and I’m really proud of him.

I’m buzzing that he trusted me and we’re now both a good example for other people.”

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