Ben's Story: Homeless at Christmas
When Ben was 18, the relationship with his mum broke down. He couldn’t stay at home anymore, so he moved in with his girlfriend.
Ben had always been fascinated with engineering, so he started an aerospace engineering diploma. But just as things were starting to look up, Ben and his girlfriend split up. He had no choice but to move back in with his mum.
On Christmas Day that year, Ben was admitted to hospital in chronic pain. He was diagnosed with sciatica, which shut down his bowels and caused severe pain in his back and legs.
The night before Ben went to hospital there had been an argument at home. A relative visited Ben in hospital and told him that he couldn’t go home. He’s never been back.
"I just had my clothes, my phone and my medication"
When Ben was discharged from hospital he came to Centrepoint in Manchester where he met his key worker, Nadeem. Nadeem’s concern was a comfort to Ben because for the first time it showed someone cared.
Ben was placed into temporary accommodation whilst a room was found for him in a hostel, but Ben didn’t want to stay there. Reluctant to ask his friends and family for help he ended up sleeping rough.
“I just had some clothes, my phone and my medication. I slept on a park bench,” Ben recalls.
“I would set my alarm, get up at the crack of dawn, and just keep moving during the day. I had friends I could borrow money from so I could get food. I had access to a gym if I needed to freshen up.
“It was January so it was freezing cold. I hadn’t got it into my head that I was homeless. I hadn’t told anyone about it. I knew that opening my mouth would open mean explaining what was going on at home, and it was just too much of a headache. Sometimes I’d rather just grit my teeth and struggle.”
“When my friends found out they went ballistic. They weren’t happy with me, so I crashed at theirs for a few nights.”
The chance to improve his future
Then Ben got a call from Centrepoint offering him a room. He felt relieved and was motivated to take every opportunity to improve his future.
Today, Ben lives independently and is working towards achieving his engineering dreams. He regularly speaks at Centrepoint events and wants to develop his own project to help homeless people.