Thomas’s story of an Islington childhood and sleeping rough on the streets of Kentish Town
I’m 26 – my family lived in Market Road Islington and I was born in University College Hospital. I’ve got a little brother who’s nearly 22. Growing up in Islington was good. I went to Brecknock School and then on to Holloway Boys. It was good to hang out with my mates and my best friend was Charlie. We played a lot of football, I was in the school team and in the local league – we were pretty good and won the trophy 3 or 4 times. At 16 I went to City & Islington 6th form college to study ICT and I passed my entry level. I had a wicked teacher called Lee and I had a great time there. All this time I was living at home but life there was very harsh and difficult.
2 years ago, my dad nearly died. He had a terrible accident when he fell down the stairs. It was all very odd. He’d been trying to wake me up for work, but it was only 3 in the morning. We don’t really know what happened, but he must’ve become disorientated and fell. It was really bad, he was in a coma for 2 months with a blood clot in his head. Then he got better and came home.
I was working at Screwfix and I was really frustrated – I had a lot on my mind. My mum was in rehab and I was worried about her. I was also worried about my dad – he was finding it difficult to be without my mum – he’d never been apart from her for 27 years. I was really rude to my manager, but I was having such a rough time with everything – I regret it, but there you go – he sacked me! When I lost my job, relations with my dad deteriorated. We were getting on each other’s nerves and it got a bit out of hand and he kicked me out. I was sleeping on the streets in Kentish Town round the back of the Co-Op. It was horrible.
I’d been on a training programme with the Arsenal on and off for 6years. I was so desperate that I called Jack who works for the Arsenal programme and asked if he could help me, as a long shot, he called Shelter from the Storm and amazingly they had a bed for me. They were so welcoming to me at SFTS, they did everything they could to help me. I saw the SFTS counsellor which helped me get back on track.
Mum had a bit of a wobble, but she’s back in rehab now which is great – I want her to get the best help possible. Cookie found a place for me to move into and I’m off tomorrow.
I’m feeling optimistic about the future – I’m looking for work and I’m still volunteering at the Arsenal. I am so grateful for the shelter and all the help they gave me when I really needed it