How Stevenage Haven helped me beat homelessness and alcoholism

Simon Hilton has turned his life around after being homeless thanks to the Haven. Picture: Georgia B

Simon Hilton has turned his life around after being homeless thanks to the Haven. Picture: Georgia Barrow - Credit: Archant

A man who turned his life around after being homeless and dependant on alcohol has thanked a Stevenage shelter that helped him recover.

Simon Hilton, originally from Walsall, went to the Stevenage Haven in December 2016, after sleeping in the A&E waiting area at the town’s Lister Hospital for five nights.

As a result of the sudden end to his marriage, Simon turned to alcohol, and was staying with a friend in Stevenage. When this was no longer an option, he found himself homeless over Christmas in 2016.

He told the Comet he felt fortunate to have been referred to the Haven by another rehabilitation service called Turning Point.

“The next day I was driven to the Haven’s cold-weather provision, which is more temporary,” he said.

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“Then I was offered a room at the Haven, which is right next door. That was the start of things getting better.

“I was suffering with a drinking problem when I came here. With the help and support of the Haven we’ve managed to combat the drinking. It was difficult to start with – I would average about eight to 10 pints a day.

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Since entering the, Haven Simon has given up alcohol and attends a Mind support group regularly.

“My wife and I were living in France and the relationship broke down, which was very stressful,” Simon added.

“Since coming to the Haven I go to Mind meetings. It gets me out for a little while and the staff are excellent and very helpful. There’s always someone to talk to.”

Now Simon is getting ready to leave the Haven, with plans to move to Wales. In December won the Turning Your Life Around category in the town’s No More Service Community Awards.

He said: “The plan is to go to live close to my family, with my parents who retired in Welshpool.

“To everyone who has helped me along the way, I can’t thank you enough really.

“Winning the award felt excellent and my parents were really pleased. No More Service is like a counselling service, and it really helped me a lot. The whole experience changed my outlook on things and gave me hope.

“What I would say to anyone who is going through a similar situation is this – there is hope, and there is always light at the end of the tunnel.”

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