Borderline

Supporting Homeless Scots in London

Tom’s story

Tom*, a 69 year old male originally from Clydebank left home at the age of 18 after the death of his father. Tom could not manage a household so following the death of his father, made his way to London. Tom then spent the next 49 years living a transient lifestyle across the UK and Ireland, accessing hostels and day centres when needed, sleeping rough and picking up work where possible.

Tom found it overwhelming to settle in one place for any length of time and only sporadically engaged with support services. During this period, Tom was a victim of modern slavery with the promise of paid work and accommodation work resulting in poor living conditions, forced labour, mental and physical abuse. After some time, Tom managed to escape this situation.

In London, Tom’s homelessness was first recorded on CHAIN (Combined Homelessness and Information Network) in 2005, yet as a long-term rough sleeper, he struggled to engage in support services. After the launch of the Scottish Outreach Worker project in 2014, Tom was referred to Borderline, where immediately we facilitated his access to the Lodge at St Ursula’s, accommodation specifically for long-term, entrenched rough sleepers.

Tom settled there for a period of time but again became overwhelmed and repeatedly left. Throughout this time, Borderline worked closely with our partners to ensure Tom was always able to return to The Lodge and access support. On one occasion, whilst sleeping rough on the streets, Tom was found outside Victoria coach station passed out and taken to hospital with internal bleeding. He then suffered a heart attack while receiving surgery. This incident left Tom scared for his health and he came to realise he could no longer live like he had been.

Tom settled back at the Lodge and engaged positively with our outreach workers, who developed a case management plan to ensure he got the support he wanted and needed. Tom was keen to have his own tenancy, and a referral was made to our sister charity, ScotsCare, for accommodation at one of their sheltered housing sites for over 55 year olds. After visiting, Tom decided he would like to live there and our outreach workers facilitated this move.

Tom is now living in his own tenancy after almost five decades of homelessness. We continue to assist Tom with this transition, and offer psychological support on a weekly basis to ensure he can maintain his tenancy.

*Names are confidential to respect anonymity of our clients

Because of our ethos of never giving up on a client and through the ongoing support of our outreach workers, Tom now has the opportunity to transition into safe and secure accommodation. Unfortunately, many more Scots remain on the streets which means we need your help to continue to work with them to break the cycle of homelessness.