Jo loves his flat.
He loves being able to go to bed when he wants. He loves cooking. And he loves his independence.
This is a far cry from where he found himself a few years ago; living on the streets, battling with alcohol and having lost his job, home and relationship.
But Jo’s problems can all be traced back to one, devastating event.
Twelve years ago Jo was on his way from his home in Enfield to work at the Immigration Office in Croydon. This day he was running late, having stopped to buy some fruit for his team. Which meant when he ran on to the tube at Liverpool Street, he jumped onto the middle of the train rather than his usual carriage towards the back.
Then something terrible happened. He thought the devastating noise from the next carriage was a crash. He didn’t realise he was caught up in the 7/7 bombings of London and was lucky to be alive.
The next thing he knew a man coming up to him with blood all over his face. Jo got off the back of the train where he saw a young woman crying so he picked her up and carried her along the track, to the safety of the next station, Aldgate East. When they emerged into the fresh air, his first thought was to call his manager to tell him he would be late to work, not realising that he had suffered multiple cuts to his back where glass had shattered all over him from the explosion.
No-one suggested he should perhaps go to hospital, no-one offered him any help, and he tried his best to carry on as normal. But within six weeks he couldn’t function any more.
He was fired from his job, his relationship broke down and he found himself living on the streets for a year. And all this time he had received no support or help to manage the devastating impact on his mental health from the bombings.
Eventually he went to St Matthews Church in Brixton who helped him find a place at Kings Court, a supported housing scheme in Streatham. He stayed there for two years before moving in to Orsett Street, a Family Mosaic supported housing scheme in Kennington.
This offered him higher levels of support to manage, amongst other things, his mental health and his drinking:
They helped me with everything, from benefits and money to hospital appointments and even a visit to the zoo. All the team were fantastic.
By this time Jo had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Schizophrenia which was made worse by his drinking. During his time at the service, he undertook an alcohol rehab course which helped him cut down on his drinking a great deal but it still remains an issue in his life.
Jo was ready to move on from Orsett Street after two and a half years which is when he moved into his current flat. He still has a Family Mosaic support worker who visits him regularly and is now managing much more independently. He has regular visits from his sister, daughter and grandson and loves his home.
Family Mosaic have helped me so much and the support has been fantastic. They didn’t leave me alone, they made sure I was safe, I had food in the cupboard and they even helped me to get stuff for my kitchen.
I still have a long way to go but my aim is to get my mind back to normal, get back to work and start helping people.
After the bombings I slipped through the net. I didn’t go to hospital, no-one helped me with my mental health or even checked in to see how I was doing. I tried to carry on as usual but it affected me much more than I realised, I wasn’t able to cope and I ended up being sectioned.
But this flat is the best thing that’s happened to me. I’m getting there slowly but the support from Family Mosaic has been very positive and I would recommend them to anyone.
For more information about support services in London, click here.