Solas

Stephen’s Story

This is my 3rd stay in Supported Housing, I had lived in Hales House in Pontypool before and had moved out into my own flat. It was harder than I thought, I had no stuff, I got in with a bad group and my associates trashed my flat. Everything got smashed, even the toilet and the sink. I was the new guy and they took advantage of me so I gave up the flat and left everything behind, I just wanted to distance myself from them.

I lived in a squat in an old warehouse for 11 months then ended up stopping at another mates house for a further 8 months, I then bought a tent and lived in that around Newport for a while. I eventually found out about Albert Street and asked about vacancies, they took me in and made me tea, they were welcoming and within a couple of days they offered me a room. I lived there for 4 months but got evicted for arrears of rent which meant I was homeless again, I had been prioritising buying cannabis over paying my rent and it had caught up with me. For the next 6 months I lived between friends again until a nice lady helped me to get the confidence to approach Albert Street again. They let me come back to live here in June 2011 and this time I am making it work.

I think this all started when I was very young, I was living with my mum when she died of an asthma attack, I was only 9, it was really hard. I didn’t even know my dad until then as I had only met him a couple of times but then I had to go and live with him. It took a couple of months before I called him dad. When I was 13 my dad tried to strangle me after an argument, he just didn’t know how to be a dad and was quite violent. I was a bully at school and was always in trouble for fighting, this had been going on for years I had even caused trouble in primary school. I would deliberately start trouble and found it fun to take other people’s stuff, I finally got kicked out when I was 14 when I punched my PE teacher.

I tried living with my brother for a bit and started to smoke cannabis, I started taking his car and his scooter and getting in more trouble so I was taken into foster care. I lived in 6 or 7 foster homes all over Wales and I hated it. There were lots of experiences of being disciplined and being shouted at, this isn’t how to care for someone I thought, it was not a good experience. This is how I ended up in Hales House aged 17.

I am 22 now and want to settle down. Since being back at Albert Street I have changed, I have been involved in lots of activities: building bird boxes, working on the allotment, gardening, cleaning, I have even done my Cookery OCN. I have been volunteering and taking part in things I haven’t had the chance to do before like go-carting as a reward for engaging. I feel the support I have been given has helped me gain self control, now I pay my rent before anything else. I want to go to college or get a job in construction, to get a flat and work hard to make it nice. This time I will be keeping my social life outside of my home!