The following are real-life stories of people who have come to the SVP seeking help, often at a very low point or time of severe crisis in their lives when they may feel lonely or socially isolated. As our support is given confidentially, we have changed names and locations to maintain anonymity. If you, or someone you know, is in need of help or seeking help, we hope they will encourage you to get in touch with us. More stories are available here and in our book “Changing Lives” which is available from our shop.
Asha is a young woman whose abusive husband and father of her three children made her life a living hell. Even after one of her children was killed in an accident, he continued to abuse her mentally, physically and sexually, killing the family dog in one outburst. Eventually, social services got Asha away from her husband to start life in a new town. SVP members talked to her, slowly developing trust, while others helped her to furnish her new flat. She was entirely alone and friendless when we started to visit, but over time and with the support of SVP members, she has gradually rebuilt her life and has even regained a sense of peace.
Paul’s life fell apart in his mid-40s after a series of misfortunes and relationship breakdowns. He was forced to live in doorways and car parks as a result. But the local SVP Conference wouldn’t allow him to let these hardships dictate the rest of his life. They helped him set up a new home for himself and scoured countless charity shops so that they could get all his basic necessities. It took some months, but eventually Paul was settled into his new home and it was a joy to see him warm and comfortable. He wrote to his helpers saying: ‘Thank you all so much for turning my two rooms into a cosy home.’
Tim is 45 years old and lives in an SVP hostel in Newcastle. He has been in several institutions during his life for various offences. At the moment, he is on licence after serving five years of a 10-year sentence for another serious offence.
“Living at Ozanam House has been the first time in my life that people around me have really tried to help. This is a new and often confusing experience for me but for the first time I feel as if I have a chance. I try my best to reintegrate myself into day-to-day life. The staff here are amazing. They are always there for me – with benefits, clothing grants, doctors and sometimes just to sit and talk when I feel helpless. I don’t know what I would do without them. For the first time ever I can envisage a life without reoffending.”
Philippe, a young man from Cameroon, had escaped many hardships when he arrived a few years ago to start a new life for himself in Britain. SVP members from the local parish helped him fill out asylum forms, found him somewhere to live and made endless appeals when it seemed his asylum requests would fail. After living in limbo for a long period of time, Philippe was finally given permission to stay. He went on to do well at college and completed an engineering degree while holding down part-time jobs. Having also studied for an MSc he has now found full time employment. The SVP helped his wife Yvette to join him. She is now working as a midwife and they have four children. The local SVP encouraged the parish to help them with household goods and assistance in looking after the children over the years. The bond between this family and the SVP remains very strong to this day.
SVP helped me when I had nothing