Bromford Support customers explain how benefits cuts will dramatically impact their lives
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Tom Devey aged 22 from Perton in Staffordshire became homeless at the young age of 16. He said: "My stepdad had just moved in and we really didn't get on - we were at each other's throats every day." The situation became unbearable and after initially spending days at a time out of the house, Tom was left with no option but to leave home altogether. He sofa surfed from place to place but had no certainty over where he was going to sleep each night. He had just a coat and a backpack, and with his family denying him, had only his friends to help him with food and somewhere to sleep when they could.
Tom slept behind bins at Spar and had to rummage in those bins for food. "I once went three days without eating or drinking," he said. He walked aimlessly during the day, becoming increasingly exhausted with lack of sleep and warmth. He suffered from depression, followed by suicidal thoughts. Tom took tablets and self harmed, even holding a knife to his throat every night; but couldn't go through with it. He was left with no family or friends, no money and no clothes.
It was when Tom was at rock bottom, that Bromford Support provided him with a roof over his head, helped him pay his bills and ultimately brought him back to normality. Bromford helped Tom move on from his past, and supported him ready for his next big step in life: "I am never going back to being homeless again," he said.
Tom doesn't know what the future holds for him but can see a brighter tomorrow. He is rebuilding his relationship with his family and friends, now seeing them regularly as he renews his trust with them. He was recently reunited with long-lost family in Tobago and has a goal of visiting them and perhaps ultimately emigrating there to work in the family business.
"I've got to look to the future, it's all good now. I never would have believed I would have made it this far four years ago. If I hadn't been offered the support and accommodation by Bromford I would be six feet under by now."
Tom's opinion on proposals to cutting housing benefits:
"If I was to lose housing benefit I would lose my flat and be back on the street. My life would be over. I would commit suicide."
Tom believes the proposed housing benefit cut is reckless, and will not solve anything. He concluded: "So many people are in this situation, young mums with kids. Cutting benefits won't work, there will be riots and millions would be forced to live on the streets - what sort of impression would that give visitors to our country for the London 2012 Olympics?"
To download a PDF of Tom's story, click here.