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Homeless Maidstone dad says stigma around mental health and Universal Credit needs to be addressed

A dad who recently became homeless says he was “too embarrassed” to admit he needed help after his mental health rapidly declined.

The 49-year-old, who did not want to be named, has been visiting Maidstone Homeless Care to help get his life back on track.

The KM has teamed up with Maidstone Homeless Care, which provides support and food to people in need, as part of its annual You Can Help campaign over the festive period =

“Before my situation, I didn’t even know this place existed,” he said. “It's my first time being homeless.

“I was really struggling with my mental health and to be honest with you this place has been a godsend.

“I don't know what I would have done without it.”

In the last few weeks he has been coming to the day centre in Knightrider Street.

The building is run by Maidstone Homeless Care, who provide help and support for those in need.

Thanks to the charity, the Maidstone man is now in temporary accommodation.

The dad, who is originally from West Kensington, says he became homeless in the county town just over a month ago and had to ask staff how to sign up for Universal Credit.

“It was very daunting at first because I've worked all my life,” he explained.

“I didn't know what to expect, but the staff are all very welcoming.

“They also do food parcels which helps a great deal, because otherwise I would have really struggled to eat everyday.”

‘It was very daunting at first because I've worked all my life...’

The charity also revealed it's had an unprecedented number of family referrals for its food bank.

The figures spiked during the first week back to school in September, which was attributed to the cost of getting kids ready for the new academic year.

He added: “I think there's a very negative outlook these days, where people just look down their noses.

“There is a lot of people still out there that think 'oh you just need to sort yourself out' or ‘get a grip on yourself'. It's not that easy.

“I really went downhill and I'd never thought I'd be like that.”

In November, the former Home Secretary proposed a crackdown on the use of tents by the homeless, saying for many it was a “lifestyle choice”.

Suella Braverman claimed those who pitched up in public spaces were causing “nuisance and distress”.

“I think comments like that are disgusting,” the dad said.

“I've worked since I was 19. I’ve had a few issues in my relationship and my life, and I hit rock bottom.

“It wasn't through choice that I ended up homeless, it was because of my situation and I had a mental breakdown.

“I was too embarrassed to admit that I needed help at the time. So I just suffered and went more downhill.”

He added: “I'd like them to spend a couple of nights on a street corner in freezing temperatures and see how much they enjoy it with no warm drink or anything.

“It's not something people choose to do.”

He is also seeing a mental health team and believes more people need to open up about their issues and not be afraid to ask for help.

“I had to face it myself that I was struggling mentally,” he said.

“I've got a daughter who lives in the area, so I had to get myself sorted out for her. Coming here and talking to the staff, they put my mind at ease.

“I feel a lot calmer here, because I suffer with anxiety when I'm out and about in town.

Last month the charity launched its latest You Can Help campaign, supported by KentOnline.

Maidstone Homeless Care is collecting financial contributions, as well as food, clothes and hygiene items for those in need.

“People are struggling. They need help – they need the right kind of help.”

To give money click here, or to donate items please message You can also purchase a specific item via their Amazon Wish List.

“I was in a real bad place,” the 49-year-old added.

“It is good to break up your routine by seeing faces and talking to people with similar problems, to know you're not alone.

“People are struggling. They need help – they need the right kind of help.”

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