Changes to the benefits system force Bola to sleep in the parks

David MacGregor Service user stories

Bola returned to the UK after living and working in Germany for four years as a constructional engineer. With some savings he was able to rent a room in a B&B whilst searching for a job. But these savings ran out before he was able to secure a job. Because of changes to the benefits system he wasn’t eligible for benefits (He had to be resident in the UK for at least three months before his application).

Destitute and homeless he was forced to live rough.

Although homeless he continued to apply for jobs. But he found being homeless made employers unlikely to take him on. At one interview he was advised to contact them “once he had a place to live”.

Bola was sleeping in parks around the Lewisham area. We reported him rough sleeping to London Street Rescue. But unfortunately they were unable to locate him.

He remained on the streets for three months.

After this time he made a claim for Jobseeker’s allowance. We first met Bola at this time, in May 2016. We referred him to two housing providers where he was offered interviews.

One day he visited Peckham library to use their computers and internet to apply for jobs. Whilst resting on a bench outside the library with all his belongings, he was attacked. It was unprovoked.

He was rushed to A&E. He needed several stitches in his head. It’s not clear why they targeted him but Bola thought it was because he was homeless.

The 999 Club immediately contacted a housing officer and they made his application a high priority. Within a week of visiting the 999 Club he was housed.

Bola has had further job interviews and is positive about his future.