#StoriesFromTheStreet - Llewellyn's story - 22/11/2020
* warning, adult language used in this blog.
The last time I saw Llewellyn was when I did the multiagency evening outreach session 14/08/2020. I remember it well. It was Friday night there had been a team of us from SYP, housing and drugs services who been out trying to engage with people on the streets. It had been a good night; we had managed to persuade a couple of people to go back to their tenancies and had found a place for a lady who was new to the streets.
We were just finishing up and heading back to Snig Hill, when we came across Llewellyn at the bottom of Fargate, he was with a couple of his mates, his dog Roxy was fast out in his sleeping bag. We already knew that he had a place with Roundabout and we had a chat about him going back that night. He was polite enough and thanked us for our concern and said if he needed anything, he would see his worker Debbie, his keyworker. But he had no intentions of going back, it was a warm night, plus he was with his friends.
Fast forward to 11/10/2020 I was in a meeting with Debbie when she updated everyone about Llewellyn, apparently, he was back in Worksop, living at home with his mum and working fulltime.
I had recently done some consultation work with people who’d been placed in the hotels, seeking their views about how services could be improved. I mentioned to Debbie that I would love to speak to him some time to find out more about his experience of living on the streets and what life was like for him now.
It's Friday afternoon 20/11/2020 and I get a call from Debbie to say she’s just come off the phone to Llewellyn, he’d finished work early so was free to have a chat. After a few failed attempts of trying to facetime via WhatsApp, what immediately struck me was his smile, his long shaggy hair was gone and was styled into a ponytail.
So how did you find yourself on the streets?
I first came to Sheffield with work, I was doing demolition work on the student flats, I had got a bit of a habit back then, dabbling with Crack and Heroin and thought I had it under control. But I ended up losing my job and realised my habit was out of control that’s how I found myself on the streets.
When you were on the streets, did people try and offer support or engage with you?
They did and they tried, but to be honest I wasn’t interested, I would just start walking in the other direction if I saw any of the outreach staff. Sometimes I couldn’t bare them looking at me, I couldn’t even look at myself. All I was interested in was money to score to keep the rattle at bay.
So, what changed?
There were a couple of things, Debbie my worker, I dunno what it was about her, but I trusted her, she could see straight through the bravado and I’d seen how much she’d tried helping one of the other lads xxxx, she never gave up, she was like a dog with a bone. She always knew where to find me and never gave up on me even when I’d rejected her offers of support, she never gave up.
But the icing on the cake was the one day I had gotten myself a £50 of crack and heroin, I’d nestled myself into one of the stairwells at NCP, but then everything went black and I realised I was going over, the gear sat heavy on my chest and shoulders and it fucking scared me. I came around, I looked at myself and Roxy my dog, we were just skin, and bones and I knew then that I’d had enough of this shit and I finally accepted the help Debbie had been offering.
So, what you been up to?
Well I’m working, on a building site plastering, its hard graft but I love it. I’m back at home living with mum, which was a little rocky at the start, there was a lot of trust to rebuild and I have had to try hard to convince her that I was trying and wasn’t the old Llewellyn, but we have gotten into a routine, we have our own space and its going ok.
I’m working on seeing my kids again, their mum has done a good job, I just need to show her I’m doing the same. It’s my birthday in 3 days, the last birthday I remember is from when I was 13, I can’t even remember that last Christmas I celebrated, but I am looking forward to this one.
What’s life like nowadays?
Well I no longer suffer from toothache, my body used to look like a golf course with all the holes from using, but now they are starting to heal nicely. In fact my body is full of scars, not just from using neither, I used to self-harm and then there’s the on from where I was been stabbed. But I have to remind myself that it’s just skin and there’s more to me on the inside, that’s what counts.
Works knackering at times, but it’s 100 times easier than being on the streets, a day felt like a week, now they fly by and the weeks go so fast, I can’t believe its Friday already! When it gets to about 1 or 2ish I start to get a bit tired, but I’m still loving it. I was diagnosed with Bipolar years ago and I’m still struggling with anxiety which can keep me awake at night. I’m paranoid that people will think I’m back on the drugs because I look shit, but its not its cos I’m not sleeping well.
But I’ve gotten myself into a routine, I always called Debbie at 5pm to check in, she’s been amazing. I’m too knackered to do much else after to be honest. But I love working on the site, the guys are great they used to say I looked like a gremlin, cos I was so skinny, but now they called me a fat bastard
Doesn’t that bother you?
Nah, I love it, I’ve never looked better, the weight is a sign I’m getting better. I love being able to buy new clothes and my wallet is never empty, I went to petrol station the other day and spent £24 on snacks, but it’s better than what I used to spend my money on.
Debbie was obviously a positive influence why do you think that was?
Trust, trust is a biggy for me especially when I didn’t trust myself. She was always trying to motivate me, telling me that there was more to life on the streets and that I had more to give, it was like she gave be some binoculars and gave me some vision into the future.
So, what are your hopes for the future?
I really want to help others, I would love to do what you do, or what Debbie does, but that can wait for a couple of years. For the moment I just want to carry on working on the building site and if I can I want to help share my story and hope it will help inspire others.
Tracey: Well I can tell you folks after speaking to Llewellyn he totally inspired me. As Steve Hart, the PCSO officer says, “its stories like Llewellyn’s that makes all the fuck offs worthwhile” and I couldn’t agree more!
As told to Tracey Ford with permission to share.
Help us Help, Nov 2020
Help us Help is a collaboration of local charities, Changing Sheff, SHU, University of Sheffield, BID, Safer Communities Partnership and other services.
We share information about the support available to people rough sleeping and begging in Sheffield, along with providing advice and guidance for businesses and the general public about how to best support people on the streets.