ARE YOU HOMELESS, SOFA SURFING OR AT RISK?

Morgan Banner 2 Front

"Being at Centrepoint has made me realise that my future can be turned around."

Following a family break up and subsequent mental ill-health, Morgan, 22, dropped out of university and ended up homeless. After a period of sofa-surfing and rough sleeping, Morgan was referred to Night Stop and later Centrepoint where he started on his road to recovery. Despite losing a family member to Covid-19, Morgan has remained engaged and takes every opportunity that comes his way. He regularly volunteers as a youth advocate for Centrepoint.

Morgan's Story

Whilst Morgan was away at university, his family broke down causing him severe anxiety. He turned to alcohol to cope and his mental health continued to deteriorate.

“The stuff that was going on at home really affected me and I began to disengage from uni or any sort of social activity. I kept quiet about what I was going through and I failed the first year because of everything. I tried going back to complete my first year, but I was in a mess. I was coming home wasted or even more depressed. It was a vicious cycle,” he remembers.

Morgan felt that the university failed to give him the mental health support he needed.

“They just seemed to put extra pressure on me about completing my course rather than give me a chance to talk about how I was feeling, or why I was depressed in the first place.”

Becoming homeless

Because of how he was feeling, Morgan felt he had no choice, but to leave university. He went home, but it was still turbulent and he felt unable to stay. Morgan sofa surfed for about four or five months, but there were times when he had nowhere to stay and then he’d have no choice, but to stay on the streets.

“On rare occasions, I would sleep, but usually, I’d try to stay awake.”

In order to keep himself safe, Morgan used to hide beneath a viaduct at night.

“I was completely sheltered so I was usually dry, but it was very cold because I wasn’t protected from the wind. If I had a packet of cigarettes, that would keep me company. I’d just mind my own business and try to keep away from anyone.”

Finding support

 Morgan explains that for young people such as himself, it’s not obvious what you should do when you find yourself homeless.

“I was completely unaware that I could present as homeless and that there were places like Night Stop available. It was only when I went home again and had another fall out to the point where the police were involved and the police took me to the council and through them, I got a place at Night Stop for about two weeks before I moved to Centrepoint.”

 Morgan’s anxiety had intensified during this uncertain period and when he initially arrived at Centrepoint he found it very difficult to communicate and it took some time for him to settle in.

“I was very anti-social. I just kept myself to myself. I still do, but I’m more open now. I like helping out and getting involved in stuff and advocating for others. I don’t want to see my future as a complete failure. Being at Centrepoint has made me realise that my future can be turned around and I can also help others.”

The staff supporting Morgan helped him to begin to break the anxious cycle he was in.

“They encouraged me to interact with people and keep up standards – get myself out of bed rather than hide myself away. They also made sure I was eating properly- my appetite had completely gone and I had lost a massive amount of weight.”

Jay, Morgan’s support worker says, “Morgan has an excellent attitude and is always keen to get involved in stuff and help others. He gets really excited by it and thrives.”

He adds, “Lockdown really affected young people in a variety of ways – isolation, depression, motivation. Morgan was keen to follow guidelines and despite suffering a Covid related bereavement during lock down, his attitude has remained positive and he has been keen to get back involved with what Centrepoint has to offer.”

Advocacy and PIE

Before lockdown, Morgan was also advocating for other young people with the PIE (psychologically informed environment) team which he says has been really eye-opening.

“I’ve started seeing Centrepoint as a turning point. You might be in a crap situation where you’re classed as homeless, but this is just the start of a new journey for you. Centrepoint are helping you to get back on your feet and make a new story for yourself.”

Despite this, Morgan still struggles to makes ends meet. Especially during the pandemic. There are very few job opportunities and he finds it difficult on Universal Credit.

“I understand that they want to keep you moving and not reliant on benefits, but it’s not enough to live on. After I’ve paid my bills here, it leaves me with about £70-£100 for the month and that’s for all my food and essentials and travel.”

“It’s unfair that under 25s get a lower rate of housing benefit. Under 25s are more vulnerable and their costs aren’t any less if they’re living independently. The majority of the young people in Centrepoint are there because they’ve had extremely devastating family break-ups or their parents can no longer afford to have them live with them.”

Morgan continues to take every opportunity that Centrepoint has to offer and is eager to continue to advocate for other young people

If you'd like to make a donation to Centrepoint and support young people like Morgan, please visit our donation page.

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