Sam makes homes better, and his work is visible in houses across York. He is a tradesman with Transfigured York, a local property improvement company, and he spends his days fitting bathrooms, painting, decorating, and turning his hand to all manner of other odd jobs in between. Sam is now living independently in his own place in west York, and he has been working with Transfigured for three years, loving his work and enjoying life.
Sam became homeless in 2016, when his marriage ended and the pressures of life became overwhelming.
When he arrived at Restore, he says, he saw the team as no more than a “bunch of do-gooders”. By the time he left, he had made profound friendships and had his life back on track. While at Restore, Sam began going to church, and he has since become a Christian. He says: “If I had not met Restore, I would not have stopped until I killed myself. I would not be sitting hear breathing now if it were not for Restore and God.” If you ever visit Restore’s offices in Acomb, you’ll see his craftsmanship there. In our meeting room, there is a beautiful clock made out of hundreds of matchsticks, painstakingly pieced together by Sam. When meetings overrun, as they can easily do, it is Sam’s timepiece that keeps us right. The clock was a gift from Sam.
I have peace for the first time in my life. I have learned to cry for the first time in 35 years. I’ve learned to grieve for a child I lost years ago. This has all come from me coming to Restore. Never in my life have I felt the love and gratitude that I have now for Restore. The staff are my friends now and I believe in paying things forward, so I do befriending and mentoring with Restore now, building relationships with tenants.”
For a long time, all of that was hard for Sam to imagine. He grew up in Newcastle as one of seven siblings, all of whom were separated and in foster care at times, and he has struggled with depression all his life. Such circumstances create a lot of internal and external pressure. Our society often fails young people who need support, and the consequences can be long-lasting.
A lot of homelessness comes as a result of addiction, but a lot of that is a knock-on effect of terrible things having happened to people when they were teenagers or children. There could be better support for kids whose families are struggling.
I had bad depression and was on the streets for a couple of months. I took an overdose and ended up really ill and I was wearing a heart monitor 24/7. I got an emergency bed in York for a couple of weeks and was referred to Restore. A friend and I both went for our interviews with Restore at the same time, and we were put into the same house, and our friendship has continued.
“I have been through a lot of homeless organisations throughout the country but there was something different about Restore. It was predominantly Anne’s attitude. I could feel my own attitude changing from thinking they were just a bunch of do-gooders whose own lives were fine, to feeling genuinely calm and settled. There was so much compassion. With a lot of other organisations, even a lot of Christian ones, you feel they are doing what they do for themselves. With Restore, you don’t feel that. I felt a lot of real love from Restore and that became hope, which is something I had never had. I tell people God sent me an angel, and she was called Anne. She is a tiny woman but she was a giant among us.
I had been in a place where I did not want to live and wanted to do something to end it. I don’t know what changed but I got on really well with my two housemates and after a few weeks I was beginning to feel a lot better about myself. I asked Restore if they had a DIY person because I wanted to work, because I’ve had depression my whole life and working has always been the best thing for me. I was put in touch with Transfigured and I’ve never looked back.
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