Last night my friend Anthony was baptized. This is his story.
“I grew up in a big family. My Dad was a very broken man and took out his aggression on me from a young age. I left home as soon as I could and assumed a new identity to separate myself as much as possible from that life.
I had a few jobs and was working as a chef but when I lost that job, I then also lost my girlfriend and my flat. I was housed in a B&B in Peckham but was forced out of there and ended up homeless. I start sleeping rough for the first time. This was May 2006. It was terrifying. I would usually sleep on Bond Street in Westminster. People would come up to you in the middle of the night and abuse you. I never got into drink or drugs. I knew that if I started that I would get into a downward spiral and never get off the streets. You have to stay strong and hold onto hope.
In 2008 I heard about a new drop-in that opened at St. Paul’s, Onslow Square so I went to check it out. It was great. There were lots of really friendly compassionate people who made me feel very welcome. At the time I was not a very nice person and these guys put up with a lot. I used to get in people’s faces and I had a big problem with anger.
Through the drop-in I got some counselling and this helped me a great deal. I also started on the Recovery Course and both of these things helped to get control of my anger and become a much nicer person. I am now able to handle difficult situations much better. The staff at the drop-in helped me re-apply for housing and I have now moved into a flat and finally have my own place for the first time in 5 years!
I know that I have a long way to go but if you could have seen me just a few years ago you wouldn’t have recognised me. I have changed a lot. I have for the first time been able to tell people that the last 30 years has been a lie and to talk to people about who I really am. When you live a lie you are always nervous that it will catch up with you. I don’t have that anymore. I have peace instead.”