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Justin's Journey

Justin's Journey

Meet Justin, a 23-year-old originally from Enniskillen, now residing in Simon Community’s Lisburn Accommodation Services since April 2024.

Justin's early life took a significant turn when he moved to Wales at the age of 4, living there with his mother and sister until he was 14. Returning to Northern Ireland, Justin moved between family members, staying briefly with his dad and then living with his granny for five years. After a relationship breakdown, he moved to Lisburn to stay with his sister and niece. However, the lack of space meant he couldn't sleep there. This led Justin to text friends every night for a place to stay or party just to crash on a sofa, which spiralled into drug and alcohol issues.

When Justin arrived at Simon Community, the first 24 hours were nerve-wracking as he had never stayed in a hostel environment before. The staff immediately provided support, with Trusts Inclusion Nurses providing sessions with him in the initial weeks and helping with his mental health and appointments.

'I never met people with similar experiences; we're all just looking for a bed to sleep in, and there is no judgment,' Justin shared.

The mental health support and new friendships have been positive experiences for him since his arrival. The staff's constant check-ins and collaborative efforts to improve his situation have been invaluable.

Reflecting on his past, Justin acknowledges the his experiences with hidden homelessness.

'The stigma around hidden homelessness is a scary thought. I used to walk around all night if I had nowhere to stay rather than sleep. I would rely on drugs and drink to get into houses and to sofa surf just to have a place to stay.'

Justin appreciates the support from Simon Community staff.

'Staff at Simon Community are so helpful whether they see that you need support or if they ask you. They genuinely care for you.'

Now two months into his stay at Simon Community, Justin feels he is at the beginning of his journey to get back on track. His short-term goals include finding a job and getting back on his feet. Looking ahead, he dreams of having a wife, three kids, and living a normal life.

'I would like to thank Simon Community for always being welcoming, caring, and just for being there.'

Reflecting on his experiences, Justin concludes,

'It's not good for the head, sofa surfing; it depresses you and makes you think about life, but there are people out there who have it a lot worse.'