Tom (25) sofa-surfed for a number of years before he was referred to Centrepoint where he was provided with a safe and secure room. Whilst with Centrepoint he received a variety of support and was lucky enough able to take part in a summer adventure camp, an experience which has inspired him in new ways.
Tom found himself without a home following a family breakdown and with little extended family to rely on; he spent a long time bouncing from sofa to sofa.
“After a falling out with my Dad, I moved out and moved in with my mum,” he says. “At that point, I had to drop out of college because I couldn’t afford the travel. After a few months with my mum, that relationship also deteriorated and I spent the next three or four years sofa surfing.”
“I was lucky in that during that three years, I only had to rough sleep once. I’m lucky that I have good friends who take care of me.”
Referred to Centrepoint
In early 2021 Tom accessed some cold weather emergency housing provision.
“It was more challenging to find somewhere to stay during the pandemic and lockdowns. I was placed in a room above a pub for two nights and on the third day, the landlord said that it wasn’t cold enough so they weren’t going to offer the provision that night. He suggested that I got in touch with the council who referred me to Centrepoint. A few hours later, I got a call and I was able to move in.”
Finally having his own room really boosted Tom’s confidence.
“I got so used to sleeping on sofas that when I got my own bed, it felt a bit weird. However, once I got used having my own space, it was a huge boost after how I’d been feeling for the past few years. I appreciate my friends and their support of course, but there is a big difference between sofa surfing and have your own space,” he reflects.
Help with budgeting and benefits
When Tom first arrived at Centrepoint, he was given the time and space to settle in and adjust. Once settled, his keyworker Michelle provided him with appropriate support.
“She was so on the ball,” he remembers. “She helped me with claiming benefits and adjusting to having my own space and how to look after it. She also really helped me with budgeting - it was the first time that I’d really had to properly manage my money. I’m doing so much better than if I had just been thrown into an independent living situation straight away,” Tom admits.
Getting back into learning and education
Tom also took full advantage of all the courses that were available at Centrepoint through the Centrepoint Works Team.
“I did a course on developing assertiveness, another on communication. I was even supported to write my CV. In fact, I ran out of courses to do! I really enjoyed doing them; I got certificates and most importantly, it got me into an educational setting and learning again. It got me out of my room. Yes, it was only across the carpark to the learning centre, but that’s still getting me up and about and doing things that will benefit me,” he laughs.
Currently, Tom is only able to work with limited capacity. He has been referred to a scheme called Maximus through the job centre which will help Tom gradually get back into employment and help him to find jobs. However, he is also considering going back into education.
“One thing I did realise whilst at Centrepoint was that I would like to get back into education before going back into full-time employment. I want a chance to continue my learning and figure out what I want to do for a career. For a long time, I thought that I wanted to go into the army, but now I need to rethink,” he reflects.
Inspired by summer camp
One thing that really got Tom thinking about what he might like to do as a job in the future was taking part in a camping trip this summer through the Centrepoint Activities team.
“I remember when I was at primary school we went on a trip where we got a chance to take part in all these amazing outdoor activities. I’d been thinking about it recently and telling people how much I’d like to do something like that again. Coincidentally, my key worker mentioned this three-day camping trip and asked if I wanted to go. I leapt at the chance. It was just so perfectly well-timed.”
At first, Tom was nervous about spending time with a group of people he didn’t know, but once on the trip he found it wasn’t nearly as scary.
“When I met the people from my group, I instantly relaxed with them. We all got along famously.”
One activity that Tom was particularly looking forward to was called the Descender!
“You get put in a harness and climb up a 20 foot pole onto a platform and basically step off. Since I was a kid, I wanted to go skydiving so the second I saw this thing, I was like – right, I’m doing that and I spent the next two weeks just waiting to go on the trip excited to do it!”
The trip itself completely lived up to and surpassed Tom’s expectations.
“I enjoyed every single part of it, it was great fun. I’m a bit of an adventurer so it was perfect for me.”
Tom even felt inspired by the young advisors on the trip to the extent where he is thinking of giving it a try himself.
“The guy who was running the camp seemed to think I’d be pretty good at being a young volunteer on the programme so I’m thinking about signing up and doing the course so I can be a young advisor on a camp like that.”
Symon Patterson, a Centrepoint Deputy Service Manager in Bradford, who accompanied Tom and the other young people on the trip says:
"Tom has progressed rapidly through the Centrepoint pathway in Bradford and is currently in his own flat with support from our floating support team. It is so rewarding to see a young person make the most of the opportunity to realise their potential. Tom was an excellent ambassador for Centrepoint on the residential but also he was an excellent ambassador for himself, throwing himself full throttle into every activity whilst also being encouraging to the others on the trip overcome fears (especially the heights element!). he residential trip was just another example how if you give a young person an opportunity, they will astonish you with their talents! I look forward to Tom taking future opportunities to achieve his goals and I am sure he will be very successful."
Well done Tom! We can't wait to hear about what you go on to do!