“After all the years I’ve been with HARP, it’s nice to volunteer and give something back" - Nick
Nick was rough sleeping, and struggling to keep a tenancy due to dealing with longstanding addiction issues, stretching back to childhood. With support from HARP's Housing First project, Nick has turned things around and now gives back by volunteering in our furniture shop.
“Addiction has been part of my life since I was 14 years of age, I got addicted back in the day. My dad used to leave me four cans of stella in the fridge to go to school with. Drinking was accepted.”
Due to his addiction to alcohol Nick found himself accessing HARP's services for the first time around ten years ago.
“Most of my life I couldn’t handle responsibilities. The only thing that had interested me for many years was getting wasted every day. Even though the help and support were there at HARP, I wasn’t interested.”
“Last year I had a bit of a change of heart, I suppose being older, I thought ‘you can’t carry on like this’. I was in a bad state and I thought ‘I’ve had enough’.”
The staff at HARP worked closely with Nick and the team at STARS who then facilitated Nick’s move to rehab. Nick returned non-dependent.
“When I was in rehab, they said I was a bit of a people pleaser, so even though I hadn’t had a drug problem for many years, I could bump into someone who was taking drugs and if it was offered to me, I’d take it, not that I wanted it or needed it.”
“It was a bit daunting when I got sober, as I’ve not known myself like that. I was a bit unsure as I didn’t know what I was coming back to. It was daunting, it is hard. I struggle every day. I’ll admit it, it’s not easy.”
Between the hard work of his key workers Gracie and Connor, Nick was selected for a flat through Housing First.
The Housing First model is based on a principle that, regardless of lifestyle, everyone has the right to a stable and safe home. It separates housing and support giving the clients a permanent home without any conditions such as sobriety. Housing First uses a harm reduction approach and focuses on an individual’s strengths, goals and aspirations. The model gives the client choice and control over their lives and flexible support is provided for as long as it is needed.
Nick is really proud of his progress so far, and is proud of his new flat.
“I found it really nice having my own space. When I first moved in there, I was quite comfortable I could have left it at that, but it’s a home now. I bought paint yesterday. I’ve got lovely neighbours, it’s dead quiet. I wake up in the morning and I hear the kids running about next door and playing in the garden, it’s nice to hear.”
Nick is living independently and enjoys the new responsibility that comes with his flat. So much so that he wanted to extend his responsibilities and so volunteers three times a week at HARP’s furniture shop.
“After all the years that I’ve been with HARP, it’s nice to volunteer for them and give something back. I mean really HARP should have dropped me years ago, but they didn’t, they’ve always been there, they stuck by me.”
Sarah, HARP’s charity shop manager, is really pleased with the contribution Nick makes at the shop.
“He’s brilliant, he knows what he wants to do, he thinks ahead, plans, he just doesn’t stop. He comes in and he works and does a brilliant job! He's put beds together, he’s always moving furniture off the shop floor when its sold and putting fresh furniture out and replenishing the stock on the shop floor. He’s amazing, an angel!”
When reflecting on his journey and what he thinks of HARP, Nick said:
“At the end of the day, if it wasn’t for HARP, I don’t think I’d be in this position now. I wouldn’t be in a tenancy; I’d probably be sat drunk somewhere. But I got through that and now I think if it wasn’t for HARP, you would have hundreds of people rough sleeping around here, simple as that.”
Nick’s key worker Gracie is really please with his progress.
"Working with Nick under Housing First and watching him grow as an individual has been an absolute pleasure. His determination to get up and face life no matter how mentally challenging it can be for him inspires me every day and reminds me why I love my job so much."