Alice Wright is a BCHA Project Leader covering Devon.

Here she tells the story of a young man, helped by BCHA, who had been neglected as a child but dreamed of going to university.

“Meeting this young man, finding what he had gone through and helping support him as he moved towards the life he wanted and deserved is one of the most powerful experiences of my life.

“He had a difficult and troubling upbringing, with a mother who had a long term drug addiction and neglected him and a father who had passed away through drugs when he was very young.

“He had been in and out of care all his life, and had spent most of his childhood looking after his mother.

“He was a shy, timid lad who took a while to put his trust in anyone -let alone me – and found it difficult to believe that anyone wanted to genuinely support or help him. But over time he started to share his ambitions and what he wanted to do with his life.”

The young man was doing an access course to get him into university but he had not told anyone at college that he was homeless, or about his situation.

Alice continued: “He also had diabetes and had found this difficult enough to manage as a child. On top of this was paranoid all the time that people would judge him if they knew that he was homeless.

“He was also fiercely independent, and through learnt behaviours thought he was always going to have to help himself. But over time he started to put his trust in me and was able to be open and honest about what he needed support with.

Alice capitalised on his resilience, and used this to build his confidence in other areas such as his budgeting and housing.

“He began to make new friends at college, and was honest with them about what he was going through, and was overwhelmed and humbled at the support they showed him, even if it was something as simple as having him round for a Sunday roast.

“I taught him how to cook some basic meals, how to make his bed and how to use the washing machine. I remember being completely shocked when he didn’t know how to even wash his dishes, or how to hang his clothes up to dry.

“He eventually admitted that he had lied during his assessment when he said his mum used to do everything. The truth was that she had never done anything around the house, and he had always had to fend for himself.

“I remember looking at this lad not much younger than myself, and wanting to take away the shame and embarrassment he felt.”

“One day he showed me a pile of letters he had been hiding and started crying.

“He had been having letters sent home by the college about parent’s evenings, chastising him for his mother never attending or turning up to his options events.

“I remember looking at this lad not much younger than myself and wanting to take away the shame and embarrassment he felt.

“I took him to the next parents evening, and he proudly introduced me to his friends as Alice. The quiet and shy lad he once was had gone and he was brave and confident.

“We talked through his options, and as my family had once done with me, I helped him map out his future.

“He eventually moved on from our service, going through a young person’s project where he was able to finish his course, complete work experience and move away for university. He will be due to be graduating soon, and I know he always planned to do his masters.”

  • £5 can provide a bus fare for a day to access activities and appointments
  • £60 can provide a new outfit for a person coming to us from the street with no clothing other than what they come in wearing.
  • £1,000 keeps a Rough Sleeper in emergency accommodation for a month
  • £5,000 would buy 60 starter packs for customers moving into a new home, which would include, kitchen starter set, dinner set, Bathroom towel set, duvet, pillows, full bedding set
  • £10,000 would currently cover the interest cost on a private finance loan of around £333,000 that could fund the building of around three new homes