Being given the keys to my own flat ‘helped sort my life out’ says Derek, living in his own home for the first time
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He’s now living in his own flat, and the excitement was palpable on the day we met him.
A homeless man who suffers with mental health issues said being handed the keys to his own place for the first time has “helped sort my life out”.
Derek, 43, from Wisbech, has been in and out of the care system for most of his life and lived on the streets for around three-and-a-half years.
After leaving The Ferry Project (TFP), Derek then got in touch with the 50 Backpacks Vision charity, and from there, he has never looked back.
“I’ve never had a home. I can’t work because I’ve got a severe illness to do with anxiety, depression, dyslexia,” Derek said.
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“In February, I came to Simon (Crowson, founder of 50 Backpacks). He took me to a letting place where they help him and the homeless get somewhere to live.”
Since then, Derek, who knew Simon from his time at The Ferry Project, moved into his one-bedroom flat last week, with the help of 50 Backpacks and Derek’s landlord.
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It’s been difficult for Derek to move on, but he recognises the help he has received to try and enjoy life again.
“One day, I went to a bank machine and all my money had disappeared. I couldn’t do anything about it,” he said.
“I prayed for my luck. Simon has helped me with everything.” After securing the keys to his new home, Derek cannot wait to make the most of the opportunity he has been given. Derek is so excited, he said he would live in his flat forever if he could, but he also acknowledges those who are in the same situation he was in.
“I can go in and out when I want; I don’t feel locked up. If I need any help or any troubles sorting out, I come to Simon with no hassle,” he said.
“I’m not getting kicked out. I got my gas and electric up and running, got my benefits changed over, everything.
“I feel better for myself, but I feel sorry for the homeless because they don’t ask for that.
“I have a cousin who comes to 50 Backpacks and gets help. She suffers with mental illness and has lost a lot of things in her life. She lost her children, her dad, everything. “If Simon wasn’t here, where would I be?”
Editor’s footnote: Like all those interviewed only the names have been amended to preserve anonymity.