Nathan's Story

My alcohol misuse started while I was living with my partner and two teenage sons and working as a head chef manager in a restaurant. My job was pretty stressful so I started to drink alcohol to cope.

There was a gradual build-up to the stage where I was drinking seven days a week. I had easy access to alcohol at work and would find excuses to go in on my days off. I also started hiding alcohol around the house - I even dug a hole in the garden to hide the bottles.

I felt I was totally in control but my family and friends were telling me otherwise. Eventually, my partner asked me to leave so I stayed with friends, but they asked me to move on too so I started sleeping rough.

I visited the West London Day Centre to get my clothes washed and have a shower. I ate at the soup kitchens and found alcohol wherever I could. I really isolated myself during this period and would find quiet places to sleep.

After six months of rough sleeping I was picked up by the Street Services Team and placed in Passage House. During my stay, my support needs were assessed and I was moved into semi-independent housing.

So what motivated me to address my alcohol misuse? My kids. I tried to keep myself busy by setting up a library with the other residents;  I participated in a service-user consultation forum with Westminster City Council; volunteered at hostels and did a Protection of Vulnerable Adults course. My aim was to become a Keyworker which I still dream of one day (if I can cope with the paperwork…).

After a year at Passage House, I moved to Montfort House until suitable independent housing became available for me. I was referred through the Clearing House Initiative and was lucky to get a place with Sapphire Independent Housing. It all happened so quickly - within five days and there was so much for me to sort out. It was stressful as I felt alone in my flat but I spoke to my Tenancy Sustainment Officer whenever I needed to and maintained contact with my family. I had to adjust to a new area, change my address, apply for the correct benefits, set up the utilities and sort out furniture for the flat. I would always advise people in the same situation to speak to their Tenancy Sustainment Officer if they have any issues, rather than worry.

Three years later, I was ready to move into employment and attended employability courses which help with CVs or interview preparation. I have since been in employment and feel content. It feels good to sit on a bus with the other people all going to work and this feels like my home - where I feel safe and secure and can relax.