In 2014 I had a meltdown moment in my life. I found myself stranded and homeless in Leeds. Born in Thailand our family moved to the United Kingdom in 2001 and settled in Darlington. I didn't get on well with my parents, so decided to come and live with my then girlfriend in Leeds. The move backfired badly, we didn't work out and ended up on the streets.
Being on the streets and having nothing made me see the world differently. I still didn't want to go back home due to the strained relationship with my parents. I have sisters, but back then was too ashamed to contact them. At the time I did not miss my family as such, but I was missing the idea of a home - somewhere to go to.
The first night was quite cold and scary for me. I had no sleeping bag and only £5 in my pocket. It was my first time to experience such a thing and I had no idea of what to do. As a teenager I had stayed out all night drinking, but I always knew I had somewhere to go to in the morning. This was different because I had nowhere to go next. It felt like I lost all sense of reality. I slept pretty much anywhere, sometimes the local authorities would move me on saying was causing a fire hazard.
Drug use was prevalent on the streets. I encountered people who used spice. I did not know much about this drug, but saw how much it messed people up. I was tempted to try spice given the situation I was in and had I stayed longer than I did on the streets I certainly would have done drugs. I was lucky that I was introduced to St George's Crypt before I did.
I met a guy who was also homeless as I was walking around town. I asked him if he knew of any place that could be able to help me out and he brought me here He told me that he came here to the Crypt quite often for food toiletries and fresh change of clothes.
The Crypt took me in. The support they gave me was crucial, food
and shelter being the most important immediate support at the time because this gave me time and space to sort out my life. They also supported me to access housing services including registering with council housing for more permanent accommodation.
The other important thing for me was that they also helped me mentally. I received encouragement and advice especially from Roger (Chaplain to the Homeless). He is a very calm person which enabled me to seek his advice on my personal circumstances. I meditated with him and his advice was good. The meditation was very beneficial to me and sorted me out mentally. Whenever I am in town I still come back here for some meditation sessions with him which really helps me a lot.
I finally secured accommodation, which meant I had a fixed address. The Crypt then supported me in completing benefits forms, something I had not done before. I soon secured a job as a machine operator in a warehouse. I stayed in this job for two years because back then I wasn't thinking past a full-time job and a place to live. I just wanted to get back into a routine. However, after two years I decided I wanted to do better with my life. I had left school with no GCSE's. I had very little education, so i enrolled onto an intensive 12-month fast track adult access course. I was then able to get into university where I enrolled for a Genetics degree course.
I am now in my final year and last year I completed an Internship in Venice. Next year I am starting at medical School, studying for a further four years to become a Doctor. My goal is to specialise and become a surgeon.
I am happy to be in this position in my life right now and I'm really grateful for the support and services that the Crypt provided for me during my hard times.
For more information on the work of St. Georges Crypt, contact Ian Robins on 01254 824930.
CHANGING LIVES @ ST. GEORGES CRYPT, LEEDS.