“I could see all that potential in him straight away, even though he was clearly struggling in so many areas.”
When you believe in people, the difference it makes can be life-changing. Even life-saving.
My name is Tom Holton and I work as part of the Health and Well-being Team at Galway Simon Community as a Relapse Prevention Counsellor. I’d like to tell you a little about a young man called Liam.
I first met Liam when he was staying in an Emergency Accommodation Service in Galway City. He was only in his mid-twenties but he’d had a pretty rough time of it. He was all on his own at age 17, with no home to go to. Liam felt ill-equipped for the basics of life, and struggled with things like budgeting, shopping and all the essential things that we need on a daily basis.
With no clear direction ahead of him, Liam fell into alcoholism and addiction, which cost him so much, including over time his relationship with his partner and his young daughter. After a breakdown in this relationship, he found himself with nowhere to live. Liam was facing a life on the streets, but thankfully he accessed Emergency Accommodation and from there came to Galway Simon. This is where his journey out of homelessness began.
He’s a bright spark, Liam. A really capable guy. I could see all that potential in him straight away, even though he was clearly struggling in so many areas. He really just needed someone to work with him, someone who believed in him. Thanks to our kind supporters, he was able to find that at Galway Simon.
We didn’t just give Liam somewhere to live, we gave him the support he needed and most importantly, we made sure he knew that he was valued and part of our community. His key worker and myself helped him to look at the issues that were making his life so difficult. One of the key ways we did that was to help him overcome his addictions. His key worker also helped him get to grips with budgeting, with handling his finances and looking after himself – something he’d never really been shown before.
Liam worked incredibly hard at getting his life back on track. I have to say, it was really inspiring to see. The change in him as a result of his hard work has been extraordinary.
Meanwhile we were also looking into housing options for Liam. At first, we set him up with a room in one of our shared Community Housing services – a good place for him to use as a home base. He had his ups and downs but eventually we were able to give him the keys to his own home in our Independent Living Service, and that’s been a huge game-changer for him.
As I write, Liam is doing brilliantly. He’s looking after himself, he’s studying towards a career, he’s playing sport, he’s in a wonderful new relationship that has been so good for him. He’s even able to spend more valuable time with his daughter, which he wasn’t able to do before. I keep in touch with him regularly, and I can see and hear in his voice how happy he is. His key worker also pops round and has a cuppa with him every few weeks – but increasingly he really seems like he has regained his independence. He has help if he needs it, but more and more he’s just doing his own thing. He believes in himself, which is wonderful to see.
It has been a pleasure – and a privilege – for me to get to know Liam, and to walk with him on his journey. Without the help he received, his life could well have gone in a very different – and much darker – direction.
There are so many more people in need of this kind of help. People who just need someone to believe in them. Please, if you can help, give that gift to more people. Show them that you believe in them too. Thank you.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been severe in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. It has been especially difficult for so many vulnerable people facing the prospect of homelessness. If you are in a position to, please give a gift and support those facing homelessness. Show them that you believe in them too.
Please note Liam’s name and image has been changed to protect his identity, however his story is very much true.