Coming back in from the cold

“I just decided to go for a walk and that was the start of living on the streets… something I want services to understand is how hard it is to find them when you are in a crisis and finding it hard to function…I ended up sitting in A&E for a few days”

This blog is from Brook, who works with some of the Mayday team in Haringey, North London, using what he has learned from his own experience of systems surrounding public services to help the council and other organisations design more compassionate and effective responses to people going through tough times. Brook joined the Mayday team to speak at Shelter’s Conference ‘A system’s response to housing’ in March 2023. He shared some experiences of trying to access help, when he was at his lowest, which I haven’t heard anyone articulate in such a clear and powerful way before. A point that really stuck with me was this one, about what ‘progression’ on a care or support ‘pathway’ can feel like to someone who feels they are ‘progressing’ away from the help they need, and back towards the situation which had become unmanageable and which had led to a crisis for them:

Services “see your crisis as the starting point, but the crisis is always the last thing in the long series of events that led to it. It is the beginning and the ending.” ‘Progression’ can feel like taking steps back towards the situation which had become unmanageable.

There’s lots more in the blog which is really worth reading on the Mayday site: Navigating Invisibility and Regaining Control.

I needed services which would build a system with me that worked for me, and where I felt more in control. It’s only when you have experienced what it’s actually like to be homeless that you can really understand how people think and feel when they cross that threshold and everything it takes to start coming back in from the cold again.


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