Dean's Story

After growing up in the care system, Dean* talks about how he became homeless and how living at The Gables is helping him to turn things around

I’ve been all over the place. I’ve lived Scotland, Dorchester, Derbyshire, Weymouth,  Nuneaton, Poole in Bournemouth … in and out of care, in supported accommodation.

I think of Weymouth as home, I lived there before I got kicked out of my mum’s … 

I was a right little shit, I was known as a PYO, yeah that was me when I was younger. Mum used to try the whole grounding thing and all that. She’d blot my door, but there was a shed by my window and I’d jump straight out onto the shed and down, and fucked off out! The park was 20 yards up the road.

Then she’d ring the Police. The Police would bring me back and then I’d jump out the window and I’d do it all over again! I’m sort of glad she put me in care though because if I’d have stayed with my mum, I reckon I’d be a right aggressive person right now.

I have brain damage. When I stand up, I can just go dizzy and black out or sometimes it just goes like I’m looking through a pinhole. I didn’t hurt myself, my mother did, foetal something disease—her drinking during pregnancy and then she wonders why I don’t want to know!

She didn’t want to know while I was in care. The only time she wanted to know was when she broke her wrist and that’s cos I looked after my sister. Chelly’s younger than me (I’ve got Kate that’s older than me and Isaac that’s older than me). Me and Chelly have a good relationship. It’s always been me and Chelly compared to the others.

It was a good two three months that I was caring for her. I was about seventeen. I shouldn’t have even been staying there … I had to ring up my carer and let her know that my mum had broken her wrist and I’d got to look after my sister. She was like, ‘yeah as long as you come back every now and then and let us know you’re alright or ring us up and let us know you’re alright, its fine’.

Being in care made me my own independent person. I don’t rely on anybody, I just rely on myself. After leaving care I moved up here with a family, I was with their daughter … and then it all went shit.

I was homeless for fourteen months …

I split up with my ex, I moved in with her dad, but then she had to move in with her dad because she lost her property and I got kicked out. It was either me or the daughter! It was obviously going to be the daughter!

I was on the streets straight away, someone took me in for about two months, but then they had to move so that was that—she was in supported accommodation—so I couldn’t move with her.

I’d go round to her sister’s for dinner on a daily basis because she knew that I was homeless, that’s the sister of the person that took me in for those two months. Yeah, she sorted me out with food. She’d just message me like: ‘if you’re not going to eat anything today, come round for dinner later’. She had a PlayStation and wot not as well, so I’d go round there and play a game, usually end up leaving there at about one o’clock in the morning and go back to my tent.

It sort of normalised after a while, yeah? I was pretty much as I am now, I had a two portable DVD players one would play five hours, one would play three, so I had seven hours worth of DVDs to watch, I had my phone, I had the internet on my phone constantly so I was still watching TV while I was living I a tent.

I had three tents on the go, one for my clothes, one for my food and one for my bed.

That was in the woods. I actually cut my way into the trees, because two of my tents were burnt. The kids found them … They used to go through my food parcel and take all the decent stuff and just leave me with the tins and bread. So, then I just thought enough’s enough, so I cut my way into the bushes and actually hid my tents. It was lucky I watch those Bear Grylls things because I built a little fence out of bushes and put it round them so that they couldn’t actually see my tents above the fence. The trees that I took down were quite straight anyway, so I just put them from tree to tree and tied them to it and put a load of branches down to hide the tents. I had waterproof covers on the top, fire pit in the middle with a little BBQ tray. I could do most food, I just couldn’t do oven food.

I was talking to people from P3, they found me out in the woods, because a dog sniffed out my tent. That was the worst bit about it, the people didn’t know where my tents were, but the animals, they could sniff it out. The amount of dogs I used to have running around outside my tent! You’d wake up in the morning and hear rustling and wot not.

They tried to get me to move in somewhere, the first place they tried to put me was Birmingham, but I wasn’t going to Birmingham. Then about a week later I got a knock on my tent at about ten o’clock in the morning  and that Charlotte was like: ‘Come on, get in the car we’re going to The Gables’. Literally she knocked on my tent about ten o’clock in the morning, sort your stuff out, we’re going to The Gables.

It was just after my birthday, so July they moved me in here …

It’s great living here, rather than being on the streets.

I just brought my clothes I left everything else up there. There was nothing there that I actually needed. My blankets and wot not, because it was cold outside and I was warm inside, all the condensation was soaking down onto my blankets and if you had the wetness on your blankets it would soon turn into mould, so I just left them all there.

A few kids did know where I was, because you know what kids are like they explore the woods. They found my little path that I cut into the trees, but luckily enough I was in my tent at that point, they’d just come around and say hello. I have a strong feeling it was them that went back and burnt my tent, but I ain’t bothered I’m not there anymore.

It’s peaceful now. I haven’t done badly here, I’ve paid most of my rent. I only get £64 a month, because Universal Credit are taking ridiculous amounts off me at the moment … I got sanctioned, eight months of hardship payments for not turning up to appointments. They sanctioned me for eight months from November last year to July this year. I end up with 78p after I’ve paid my rent for this place. It’s £64 they pay me and 63-somethng that goes on rent!

The food parcels keep me going, but they get worse every time you go for one … Most of what they give you are vegetables in a tin. Out of the twelve tins they give you about eight or nine of them are vegetables. Then you get a few tins of beans on the top.

Next, I want to get my own flat.

It’s hard though if you’re a single bloke. The social housing’s all for women and children. Most of the private landlords that I applied to during my fourteen months on the street wouldn’t take DHSS and most of them need a guarantor—I haven’t got a guarantor … and I want to go back into catering. I did it for about two years, I was working in The George Café so it was full English breakfast, jacket potatoes and all that stuff. I was only 18. I was still in care and when I turned 18 they had to move me. It was annoying because it meant I lost my job and everything else.

I’ll need to start from the bottom and work my way up because it’s been so many years, it’s sort of faded a bit out of my head, but if I had my perfect scenario I’d own the restaurant by the end of it.

I’ll just do it day by day …

*Name changed for anonymity.

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