After leaving care at age 21, Jordan was provided with his own tenancy. However, lacking the knowledge and skills needed to maintain a tenancy, Jordan eventually lost his flat and was deemed ‘intentionally homeless’. From there it was a downward three-year spiral of substance and alcohol addiction, leaving Jordan depressed and barely surviving.
The cycle of barely surviving
“Being homeless feels like you’re trapped in a never-ending cycle,” he explains. “The only way I could deal with it was to get high – use cocaine, smoke and drink. It damaged my body and it affected my relationship with friends and family. It made me feel suicidal at times – it felt like a situation that was never going to end. I’d got to the point where I was either off my face or depressed beyond belief.”
struggling to find shelter
“Sometimes I slept under bridges. A friend of mine had a van in his driveway and he let me sleep in the back of there,” Jordan recalls. “With the cold weather, the condensation was really bad and it was always dripping down on me, but it was safer than being outside.”
“Other times I’d go to the local library and get a bit of sleep there without being obvious. It was extremely challenging – even if people in those places understand your situation; they still have rules and regulations. If they let one person get away with it, others will do the same. It was a living nightmare.”
After spending the majority of last year on the streets, Jordan was eventually referred to Centrepoint and the Manchester Homelessness Prevention Service, where he received support for his drug addiction, alcohol dependency and mental health. He was found appropriate temporary housing and assigned a keyworker, who assisted him with vital life admin like registering with a GP and opening a bank account.
Centrepoint supported Jordan in other ways, too. “I’ve started to see the drug worker here, and I’m now three months clean of cocaine. I wouldn’t have been able to get where I am now without Centrepoint. Having all those services in one space is so much easier because you’re not going here, there and everywhere to get the support you need.”
Crucially, Jordan was given the opportunity to engage with the new arts programme at Centrepoint in Manchester. An avid film fan, Jordan attended the Centrepoint drop-in service “in the hope that Film Club was running”. Film Club had not started yet, but he stayed to hear from Cardboard Citizens – an organisation that travels the country working with people who have experienced homelessness – who were about to begin a residency at our Manchester services.
In fact, Jordan was so determined to take hold of the opportunity with Cardboard Citizens that on the first day of the residency, he walked the 3.8 miles from his accommodation in order to attend.
The residency culminated in a piece of performance theatre that tells the story of that group of people’s lives without singling anyone out. For Jordan, it was life changing.
“It was a massive achievement for me and it’s one thing that I can honestly say I’m proud of. It helped me on so many levels – I always had something to focus on. My mental health deteriorates when I have nothing to do. Plus, the work itself was so fulfilling. It felt like we were promoting change and helping other people,” he says.
Jordan is interested in mentoring other homeless young people in the future. “Centrepoint has done so much for me. If I can help others like they’ve helped me, then that would be brilliant.”
His experience has given him a deeper understanding of how young people can help build themselves a better future – and what stops them: “Services like Centrepoint can only do so much. They can put the opportunities in front of you and help you as best they can, but you’ve got to work with them. You’ve got to be prepared to put the work in yourself. If you don’t believe in the changes you need to make then it’s not going to happen.”
The future is now looking brighter for Jordan: although he still struggles, he has managed to complete the residency with Cardboard Citizens and subsequently secured an audition to study drama at college. He also gained a PEARL employability qualification and continues to stay engaged with other projects.