People Stories

A story of R

R. (39) came to the United Kingdom from Poland in January 2014 and has been sleeping rough throughout the entire period. As a migrant who has not worked in the UK for a sustained period he did not receive benefits and he could not access short term accommodation services. He has had alcohol issues since he was a teenager.

R. came from Poland to London because he wanted to provide a better life to his parents who live in Poland. His father has a heart condition and his mother is taking care of him and cannot get a job because of it. R. trained to be a carpenter, so he hoped to find a job in his profession in London. However, he did not know the language and he found it difficult to apply for all the necessary documents in order to be able to work legally. He started making friends with the other Polish people living on the streets of London and this is how he started to cover his issues by drinking heavily.

At the beginning of July 2014 he accepted to return to Poland, his home country. He refused reconnection numerous times in the past because he did not have anyone to go to in Poland. He was not keeping in contact with his family because of the poor circumstances he found himself in here. Therefore, he continued living on the streets of London, whilst damaging his health and worsening his condition. His condition started to become worse every day whilst on the streets of London – spending his time in a small park, nearby Victoria station. Moreover, his physical and mental state was deteriorating.

But this time it was different. For almost two weeks Peter – Barka UK leader, who himself was homeless on the streets of London for seven years before accepting to go to Barka communities, visited him in the park. R. found out that he could return to Barka communities where he could get support in starting to improve his life. He was happy to know that he could stay in the community and recover (physically and mentally) before trying to contact his parents. He did not want them to see him in the state he was when he left London.

He is now trying to turn his life around in the communities and he has contacted his family. The other members of the Barka community are a very powerful model for him, showing that change can happen.

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