Paul Hand, 64, moved to Spain with his mother in 2009 and spent the subsequent years caring for her after she suffered with a brain tumour that left her needing 24 hour care.
When she passed away in 2014, Paul moved to smaller, more affordable accommodation and intended to stay in Spain where he had built a new life ahead of his retirement. But in December 2017, Paul was evicted without any reason, and could find very little support as he faced homelessness in a foreign country. Paul had no choice but to return home to find the support he needed as he hit crisis point.
HARP were able to provide Paul with the temporary accommodation he needed to keep him safe and off the streets, but shortly after, Paul fell ill and was admitted to hospital. Later, it emerged that Paul’s health was a serious concern and he was told he needed a triple heart bypass - “the surgeon said I was in such a bad state I could have dropped dead any minute”.
He underwent heart surgery and was later discharged, and he recalls “if I didn’t have a room at HARP I would have been discharged to the streets.”
With HARP’s support Paul soon found accommodation and has since moved on to live independently, and he has found a new lease for life as a volunteer at HARP’s Day Centre in York Road. HARP deliver an extensive and diverse training and meaningful activities programme which aims to boost employability, improve confidence and self-esteem, and provide meaningful engagement within the community. Paul now volunteers most days with the hope of inspiring others to keep striving forward.
Volunteering has not only given Paul a new sense of purpose following the life changing upheaval he has been through, it has also given him new skills and confidence which have led to new opportunities. Before becoming a full time carer Paul was hoping to teach English as a foreign language - “my plans were on hold as I became a full time carer for my mother but I have just found out that I have been accepted for a TEFL course which is such fantastic news.”
He continued “since my Mother died my life has been a rollercoaster, but I finally feel settled now and feel positive for the future. I would like to think I inspire people as the reality is that you can achieve anything you want to - it’s just believing that you can."
To find out how you could volunteer like Paul and help local people overcome homelessness click here.