Mark was rough sleeping in December, now he’s celebrating what he calls a ‘lifesaving opportunity’

Former member of the armed forces, Mark*, was rough sleeping in December with just a few items of clothing and no other possessions. Now, on World Homeless Day, he’s celebrating what he calls a ‘lifesaving opportunity’ in a warm, safe and secure home of his own.

Former Fusilier Mark had a complex and difficult journey which led to him becoming homeless on the streets of Salford

Throughout his childhood he lived in many homes and attended many different schools, often finding it difficult to settle or make long-term friends. His mother was dealing with serious issues including substance misuse and violence, and at the age of 16, Mark decided to leave and join the army.

Mark, aged 41, said: “It was hard being in the army so young, and due to medical reasons I ended up leaving to come back home. I found it really difficult to settle back into civilian life and to be back living with my mum, and found it hard to hold down relationships.”

Mark had a child with his then partner, but when that relationship ended, he once again returned to live with his mother. He got a new job as a security officer, and met a new partner who he had two children with. His job involved long distance travel, and he began to struggle with the cost and emotional impact of being away from his family.

The relationship began to break down and turned violent, with Mark becoming the victim of domestic abuse.

He found himself a new place to live, but became dependent on cocaine and alcohol. He fell behind on paying his rent which led to Mark losing his home.

He then attempted to take his own life on three separate occasions. In December, Salford’s Rough Sleeper team found Mark on the streets and offered him the chance to change his circumstances.

Mark said: “I felt so guilty that I had lost contact with my 13-year-old son and my other children, and I literally only had the clothes I was wearing when the Rough Sleeper Team found me last December.

“I was so thankful for the team, and they worked with ForHousing to find me somewhere to live and other help that I needed.”

The ForHousing team provided accommodation for Mark, and in conjunction with Salford Supported Tenancies provided wrap around support to help him work towards achieving his goals.

Cat Taylor from ForHousing said: “At ForHousing we not only want to provide people with quality homes, but we want to make more things possible for them. We knew that Mark was keen to make changes to help him to reengage with his children, and we wanted him to have the support he needed to do so”.

Rebecca Holden, Supported Tenancies Officer (Armed Forces Lead) said “He has worked incredibly hard, accessing mental health support, seeing a GP regularly to attend to his medical needs, and has been sober for six months now too. He loves to cook, read and watch films, and he’s currently saving for some new pans for his home, along with a fishing rod to allow him to reignite a passion for his former hobby.

“He actually laughs and smiles now during my support visits, and it’s lovely to see him with such a positive mind set compared to how he previously felt. It’s been a difficult journey for Mark but it’s great to see him feeling more like himself and so settled in his new home.”

ForHousing is in the process of converting Mark’s temporary accommodation into a tenancy in his own name, and will continue to provide him with support for as long as he feels he needs it.

Mark added: “They’ve helped me in so many ways. I even got a new wardrobe of clothes from some ex armed forces charities, and I am starting to feel much happier in myself. I really want to be able to get back to work, and the team have said they’ll help me with that too.

“This has really been a life-saving opportunity for me, and I can’t believe that I can now have my son come to visit me in a home of my own.”

*Name changed to protect tenant’s identity