Case study: Building a future after prison and homelessness

*Neil, 41, first turned to Nottinghamshire YMCA for support after almost six years in prison resulted in him becoming homeless in Kirkby, Nottingham. With help from the regional charity to access stable housing and specialist services through the Multiple Complex Needs service, Neil is now beginning to rebuild his life and sense of wellbeing.

Homelessness after prison

 “I was 35 years old when I went to prison and was released when I was 40,” Neil explained. “It was hard and not a very pleasant time at all but it was so much worse when they kicked me out with nowhere to go.

“Life became much more difficult and I soon felt like I was better off in prison than on the streets. Being homeless for four months was not very nice at all. It was cold a lot and I didn’t want to be here; I didn’t see the point of life anymore.

“What’s more is that I was homeless during the pandemic when the country went into lockdown, which was horrible as the streets emptied and there was no one around at all – it was deserted and I was alone. There was no one around to help so I had to go and seek out support myself from Kirkby Council, which eventually put me in contact with Nottinghamshire YMCA.”

Neil moved into the charity’s supported accommodation in Stanton Hill village, in Ashfield, and has now been able to begin rebuilding his life in a positive direction.

‘YMCA provides wide-ranging support’

“The YMCA team showed me to my room and they have been helping me with everything ever since,” said Neil.

“Their support is wide-ranging and they give me access to whatever I need, from signposting for drugs support to providing me with a mental health worker to sort through issues. I feel like I’m moving on in my life and I don’t have feelings of wanting to be dead anymore. Having someone to talk to about things is really important and has made a big difference.”

With the lockdown restrictions beginning to lift, Neil will soon be able to take part in the YMCA’s programme of activities available to residents.

“The team is sorting out YMCA Gym passes for us all and fishing licenses so we can get stuck in with all sorts of activities which will be good,” said Neil.

“My main advice for anyone going through challenges or homelessness right now is to proactively go and ask for help – you need to ask for it and stick with it until you find the support you need because help is out there. My primary goal now is to take the support I’ve received so far and just keep moving forward in any way possible.”

(*Names have been changed to protect anonymity of the resident)