Callum Hardy was 18 years old when he slept rough for around five months. Here he tells his story:
At 18 I found myself homeless and sleeping rough. I can remember the first night. I was scared. Lost. And cold. So cold. The hardest part was falling asleep. I didn’t know what would happen to me. That first night I had all my suitcase contents stolen and thrown around by other homeless people. I didn’t even have a sleeping bag that first night.
Over the days and weeks I gradually began to meet and connect with other homeless people. A lot of them were friendly and helped me find soup runs and places to get free clothes in different churches. In the end, I felt really protected by the community.
It’s easy to judge people living on the street, but one thing I can say is that you never know when it might happen to you. I never imagined I’d have to live on the street.
After about five months I heard about YMCA Exeter and moved into their stage one accommodation at St Davids Hill. It was a God send. It took me a while to adapt to having a place of my own, but the best part was meeting new people and just feeling safe and wanted.
If I met someone in the same situation as me, now, I would say don’t give up and keep moving because people truly care and appreciate your presence. Through it all I’ve learnt that you’ve just got to look in the right direction and never feel ashamed if you fail. There’s no success without failure.
Callum today lives in YMCA Exeter stage two accommodation and is working as a trainee in YMCA Exeter’s Lighthouse cafe.