“My name is Jim, I am  56 years old and I come from Scotland. I became homeless a few years ago when my second marriage broke down. I have always found it hard to get close to people, and my childhood was a mix of care homes and foster families. I was adopted into a loving family, but tragically when I was 9 years old my adoptive mum died very suddenly. No one explained the reasons and I have always blamed myself for her death.

I first got married when I was 19, settled down, had two children and a good career in forensics. My drinking got heavier when I was 25 and I realised that I had a problem. My marriage ended and I suffered a breakdown and became homeless for a short while.

It was after my second marriage broke down that I moved to London, I cut myself off from my friends and family and became anonymous, this was my way of coping. I slept rough when I ran out of money and things became very hard, it was as if life was repeating itself, trapping me in a cycle. After two months, a Street Outreach Team approached me and referred me to Western Lodge.

I stayed at Western Lodge for a total of 17 months. I had my own project worker who enabled me to build my confidence and slowly piece my life back together. My turning point was when I suffered a heart attack and I had to stop drinking, it was a defining moment in my recovery and I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I never thought life would unfold this way, running away always seemed like the only solution but now I know there is an alternative. Having been resettled into Sheltered Accommodation I feel much more optimistic about the future and a much stronger person. I am so grateful that Western Lodge enabled me to move on with my life.”

Edit: Since leaving Western Lodge in July 2008 Jim has been rehoused with sheltered accommodation.