Keith stayed at CHESS for 11 months. He was re-housed into his own flat and this is his story.

“Due to the breakdown of my marriage I was left homeless and actually living in my car. I was at my lowest I have ever been. With nowhere to turn to I called the Samaritans, who put me in touch with MIND, who then put me in touch with CHESS.

They didn’t have a bed for me at first but they gave me a hot meal, shower and a chance to wash my clothes on many occasions. Then I had a call to say CHESS had a room for me. This was the point in my life that everything started to change.

When I first attended my weekly Support meeting, Jo would sit there for 2 hours listening to me. This was double the time but it never bothered her. After each and every meeting I left feeling positive and most of all laughing.

I asked for an ironing board, a broom and some materials to decorate my room, all of which I received by the end of the week.

After a few weeks they recommended seeing Dolly the counsellor. At first I wasn’t sure, but after 1 or 2 sessions I made the most of it and started feeling in a better position – actually looking forward to my meetings with Dolly. (I would strongly recommend to anyone).

At my time with CHESS I was offered various courses which I completed. Wellbeing, IT, cooking etc. All of which were extremely helpful. During my support meetings I told them about my debt which was playing on my mind as it was a lot of money. I was offered help but by this time you had built my confidence up and I dealt with it myself – with a kick when I needed it lol!

I was encouraged to go to the dentist just for a check-up and made sure I did. They rang the doctors for me when I needed them too. One day I mentioned about my glasses, which I do need most of the day. Jo said get a quote and leave it with me. A short time later I had two pairs of varifocals which CHESS helped me with. This was a HUGE help.

I had to write various letters over the last year, again I received so much support and advise from Jo and the team at CHESS. Then it came to getting my own place.

I know I am repeating myself but their advice, support and encouragement has got me where I am today.

I now have a fantastic place that I can call my own and most of all a place where my son can come and stay. This meant everything to me.

Because of their continuous help, support and encouragement I am now looking for a full-time job. Because of their help I have worked for the Royal Mail on different occasions and also volunteered for the NHS during the unprecedented times with COVID 19.

This time last year I was homeless and thinking the very, very worst. Now look at me!!!  They continually told me that I have myself to thank for what I’ve done but it is mostly down to the guys at CHESS.

Even now when I am applying for jobs or need forms printed for the NHS, I was able to send them an email which they printed out so i could pick it up 30 minutes later. Even after I left I still had that extra support.

I can never thank my support worker Jo and the rest of the team at CHESS for what they have done for me. I dread to think where I would be now if it wasn’t for them.”

Read More Stories

You can read more stories like Keith’s on our 20Years, 20 Stories and for all of the stories from HARP Southend here