Ronnie’s story – moving on from homelessness
"Despite my hardships and struggles though, I’m still an optimistic person and the better days are still to come, I’m sure of that."
“I’ve experienced homelessness for most of my adult life. So when I got the keys to my very own tenancy at the age of 70, it really was a long time coming and the new start I’ve always wanted. I moved in on 16th March 2020 but within a week we were in lockdown and all the care and support arrangements that I had in place were all suspended. Thank god I had my family around me.
I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) due to years of heavy smoking so I struggle to breathe sometimes and I need to use my nebuliser and inhalers to help me. I only smoke the vape cigarettes now so that was a big change to make considering I’ve smoked since I was sixteen.
When you live on the streets and in hostels it really is a harsh existence. I’ve never met another homeless person who doesn’t either smoke, drink alcohol or take drugs. It’s how the pain is numbed. How can you live like that and not try to forget the hand life has dealt you.
I ended up with alcohol related brain damage (ARBD) but I’ve not touched a drop since I recovered from bowel cancer a few years back. To be homeless with an addiction and having cancer is one hell of a scary thing. Fortunately, my brother and his family came back into my life after we had been estranged for decades. Best thing that’s ever happened.
After the lockdown started, I received a letter from the NHS to say I was in the shielding category due to my vulnerabilities and age. So ironically, after all the time spent on the streets, I now had to stay inside my new flat and I never left until the end of July. Sticking my head outside the kitchen window each day was as much fresh air as I was able to get. I used to watch magpies playing in the tree.
Despite my hardships and struggles though, I’m still an optimistic person and the better days are still to come, I’m sure of that.”
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