My name is Andrew Pochin and this is my story.
It started in March 2005 when I had to leave work to look after my mother who has Alzheimer’s. I looked after her for two years and, when I had no choice and in her own interests, she had to go into a nursing home.
By January 2007 I had to leave the property due to the fact that my mother had not been paying the rent. I went down a horrible road of drugs, drinking heavily and having unprotected sex with men and women. I become homeless as a result and I was losing friends left, right and centre.
I was sofa surfing and became very depressed. I ended up on the streets and contracted the HIV virus in 2009. I was at my lowest ebb. I felt like I wanted to take my own life and I felt like this for about two years. I carried on drinking heavily but stopped using class A drugs in 2010.
Then a friend suggested I go to the Irish Centre in Camden Square NW1. I said, “I am not Irish and have no Irish connections”. I reluctantly went and spoke to a helpful and supportive worker called Lesley Ryan in November 2011. I pestered her for about three months and she found me a place at Seven Sisters Road hostel on 16th February 2012. Initially I thought it was going to be a hostel where I could rest my head and be left to my own devices but the support from my key worker, Veronica Donohoe, and the other staff, Zoe, Kelli, Nabil and Olu helped me see a future. I came out of my shell and, through their determination and the confidence they stowed into me, I was able to move out on the 24th July 2012 into a studio flat. I am a more confident person and I am hoping to do a computer course in September.
This is a dedication to everyone at Sapphire Independent Housing.