Rob's Story

Rob describes the fear of living on the streets with his dog Maggie and how with support he is now beginning to rebuild his life.

My name is Rob* and I’m 38. I was in a relationship and that just fell apart. I then went to live with my sister as I had nowhere to go, I got into the wrong crowd and started using soft drugs and bit of cannabis, then I took speed, used to inject it, I watched my mates use heroin and I hated what I saw, the speed dried up and I thought I would try it, don’t know why but I did.

Anyway, used a bit of coke for a bit, whatever was cheapest really and then it was cheaper to get heroin so I started to inject it. At first, I thought this was alright, take coke then use heroin to bring me down. I didn’t really like the after effects and how it used to make me feel like a zombie but once I had been on it that was it really – the point of no return I suppose.

After a while I could see what using the stuff was doing to my family so I left my sister’s, I knew a few people and would stay on my mate’s sofa.

My mate was taken to prison so I couldn’t stay in his flat and was chucked out, I didn’t know who to ask for help and due to the drugs didn’t really care anymore.

I then started to sleep rough on the streets and at first it was a bit scary, I realised then that I had no one and nowhere to go. I was on my own. I met someone who I became friends with and he showed me the ropes and we stuck together to feel safer, I used to sleep behind buildings to keep out of the way then I thought what if something happened to me, nobody would know I was there and that scared me so I started sleeping next to one of the big shops in town, it was dry, it felt like I had my own bedroom. A woman used to come and bring me bacon sarnies in the morning; there were nice people that would ask me how I am. But then there where were times at night that people used to come up to me and be horrible and shout abuse at me, try to take my blankets away.

Once I got over the fear it was alright, you go into survival mode.

I was still using drugs, I used more drugs on the streets just to block away the pain, I felt I was not worth anything, needed to block the worries away, I felt more secure on drugs it made you not think about anything.

Oh, and I forgot to tell you I had a dog - Maggie – it’s harder to find somewhere to live when you have a dog – people used to say just get rid of the dog and you can get a flat.

It’s easy for people to say that but I had nothing – but I had my dog, she had had a rough start in life, she’s my baby, my life, something of mine, the only thing I’ve got so there was no way I would leave my dog Maggie – and I believe it would also kill her if she left me – we have a bond. I felt like I would never get in anywhere as I had a dog.

I had support from Paul every day and I know he tried all the time to find me somewhere, every now and then I would see Richard from the council with P3 and Amy and David from the police – they really tried to help, constantly trying to convince me to accept help.

I think I had given up hope until one day they told me that P3 would accept dogs – I had had enough so I took the offer.

When I came to P3 I was a bit scared and to be honest a bit embarrassed, I stunk, I had not showered for a long time, there were young lads who I thought would think I was a tramp.

I showered, had something to eat and felt so much better – like a human being again, like I was someone.

That first night I slept, it was the first night of real sleep. On the streets you are semi-conscious all the time as you don’t know what’s around you, I used to tie my dog to my wrist.

Now that first night Maggie was sprawled out too, she looked happy, we were relaxed, I felt safe, I had hope, things were getting better. I know there is no magic wand, I want to move forward.

In secure accommodation knowing the support is there is everything, my mental health has not been good and I need that support, I can speak to someone. I am attending my appointments, trying to move forward, I hope to be drug free one day.

I just want to be comfortable, I want to live in my own home but feel that I will need lots of support and the right kind of support, when I want it.

I have this self-destruct button I think, that’s what drugs do – I don’t know what it is you go so far then backwards, I feel like I don’t deserve things to be better – I’ve got to get through that.

I would love to be in work or be in a situation to start work but I’m scared – real life is so difficult, it’s like starting over as a teenager again.

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*Names changed to protect anonymity.