In 2010, Darryl was going through a rough patch. He had lost his job, and though he was living with his partner, it was becoming ever clearer that their relationship was coming to an end. When things finally drew to a close, and with no regular income to speak of, Darryl had to turn to his friends for somewhere to stay. For a while he did the rounds, going from couch to couch, but there’s something a bit different about couch surfing when you’re in your mid 30’s and your friends’ house is now a family home, complete with a wife, 2 kids and a dog.
I had no work and now I was homeless it became even harder to find a job, it’s a systemic catch-22
He began to run out of places to stay until finally he had just one last friend to turn to. Darryl stayed with this friend for a little while longer before it was made clear that there was no room left at the inn. Darryl left his friends’ house for the last time with around £200 to his name and headed into the streets of Manchester, from which he would not return for 6 months.
If you’re on the streets it doesn’t take long before you look unkempt; depression started kicking in
He spent his first few nights in a hostel, using the money his friend had given to him to pay for a room. At a tenner a night, it was clear his funds weren’t going to last long. He had registered with various housing associations and of course the council, however, with no fixed address it ironically became outlandishly difficult to apply for any kind of financial aid or a council house. The paper trail had nowhere to go, and neither did he.
After numerous attempts to sort things out over the phone it became clear that anything of any use had to be sorted out face to face during an appointment with an official. Many of these appointments were held in locations that were notoriously difficult to get to, requiring between 3 – 5 bus journeys, and when a your survival cost of travel isn’t cheap. Despite Darryl making it clear that he didn’t have the funds to make it to these appointments, he was cast aside and soon he had to face the reality that staying at the hostel was a luxury he couldn’t afford.
With no funds or address I was in trouble
He asked some lads who paid for their rooms at the hostel by selling the big issue if they new anywhere warm to stay. They took Darryl under their wing and in February 2010 Darryl spent his first night on the streets under a railway bridge. It was freezing cold, but at least out of the wind, right in the centre of Manchester.
Weeks turned into months and Darryl’s mental health began to decline dramatically. He became engulfed by depression and began to seriously contemplate suicide. Many of the homeless people he found himself around used drugs and alcohol as some form of escape from the extremely harsh conditions that they were under. He very nearly succumbed to the alluring option of a little relief a few times, but as he witnessed the rapid deterioration of his peers’ health, it became very clear that the long-term price was much higher than the short-term gain.
They develop (a drug habit) just to escape from the reality of what’s actually going on and the cold
His saving grace, his motivation and inspiration that there was hope came in the form of a cup of hot soup, brought by an outreach worker during one of those bitterly cold nights. He clung to this hope, this belief that he could get out of this situation. He became more street smart and found abandoned buildings to sleep in, while relying on soup kitchens or the charitable nature of others for sustenance.
The people that saved my life were these outreach workers. Because honestly some nights I just felt like jumping off a bridge
Around 6 months later while begging, Darryl saw an old family friend. Ashamed, he tried to hide away, but the friend saw him. He was shocked to hear Darryl’s tale. He took Darryl for a meal and a haircut and discussed everything that had happened. The friend offered Darryl some work on his construction site and Darryl took it without hesitation. After a few months work, Darryl managed to get back on his feet and is now the Founder and Director of Middleton community trust, which has been a registered charity since 2011.
Just because I’m on the street it doesn’t mean I don’t want to work and that I don’t have a
good work ethic, I just needed a chance
Middleton Community Trust is run through a building in Oldham, in which can be found a food bank, a clothes bank and a yoga studio. Darryl has tried to provide 3 basic human needs: something to eat, clothes on your back and a way to deal with mental health problems, as yoga is known for. The yoga teacher also offers advice about diet and exercise, as well as a form of meditation.
I concentrated on the things that helped me and thought surely this will help others
A lot of this stems from depression so it’s a key thing to address
But it’s not just homeless people that rely on this charity. Middleton Community Trust have fed over 15,000 people, many of whom just can’t afford to put food on the table. With so many people relying on this charity to survive, it is under a lot of pressure and desperately needs some donations. Unfortunately, due to lack of exposure (as all funding goes straight back into providing for those who need help) Middleton Community Trust is not getting the funding it needs.
They want to see a video, they want to see images. But all that costs money
Middleton is doing all it can to deal with the epidemic of homelessness that is running throughout Manchester, but they could do so much more with a little help.
Everything I needed are the things that I do and provide now. This is where my passion and vocation lies
If you’d like to help Darryl achieve his goals with Middleton Community Trust; you can find more information at: www.middletoncommunitytrust.org
February 15, 2018