Young person stands against white brick wall

Joe's story: Leaving rough sleeping behind

Joe was supported by Centrepoint in Manchester on and off over a number of years, but it’s only recently that Joe has been ready to turn his life around. From sleeping in every doorway in Manchester City Centre, Joe is now in a stable place and looking forward to the future.

A difficult childhood

Joe's childhood was punctuated by heartbreak and loss. By the age of 16 he had fallen into homelessness, drugs and crime.

“The trauma of my childhood meant that I fell into drugs, youth offending and a dark place of homelessness.”

It can take a long time for someone to be in the right place to accept support and is dependent on a number of factors. For Joe, it’s taken seven years to get to that place.

Life on the streets

Joe was first known to the Centrepoint’s rough sleeping team in Manchester when he was just 17 and they signposted him to services that could help him with his mental health and housing. He says that at that time, he was just living every day as it came in order to survive.

“I was rough sleeping on and off since a very young age. The drugs kept me on the streets. I was a heavy user and it was easier staying on the streets than being at home. Even though I was homeless myself, I looked after the other homeless people; making sure people had clean socks and were fed and watered and stuff like that. I slept in every single doorway in Manchester City Centre during the years I was homeless. I lost a few friends along the way to drugs and everything else.”

Getting back on track

Eventually, Joe realised that he would die if he continued down this path.

“Two years ago, my father died of a heroin overdose. I’ve been through prison and mental health sections due to the state of my health. I realised I was tired of taking drugs and slowly dying. Centrepoint put me on the right path to healing myself both psychologically and emotionally."

With Centrepoint’s support, particularly from the complex case worker, Amy, he got help with his mental health and substance use and was able to get clean.

“Knowing that someone is on the end of the phone and that they are not going to give up on you is so important," Joe explains. "Centrepoint never gave up on me and were always there to talk to if I was in crisis. It was very encouraging to know that.”

Amy is so proud of the progress Joe has made.

“In the last six months Joe has really worked hard to turn his life around and it has been amazing to see his progress,” she remarks.

Without Centrepoint’s unwavering support, Joe says that he could be in quite a different place now.

“I think without Centrepoint and the support they offer, a lot of young people would slip through the cracks and go into a dark state of mental health issues or never leaving the streets,” he says. “Centrepoint offer young people a chance to turn things around. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for them and I am so grateful.”

Joe is now clean and living back in his family home. He is looking forwards to the future.

“I am in a very positive mindset now and I am not going to go back to the drugs. Centrepoint helped me to get to this place.”