I have known the place that I live in now since I was in my late teens. At that time it was an abandoned warehouse, and I used to kick the door in and sit in it. Everything about it seemed timeless. It was my safe place... somewhere to dream about the bright future I was sure I would have.
Fast forward almost 10 years. I have been a drug addict and then clean, and am living in a dry house. Eventually however I am offered a housing association flat in the centre of town.That flat is the one I live in now - where years before I used to kick the door in and sit. Some of the original site still exists, but my flat is a brand new building. People keep telling me I am lucky, that I am free because I have a place of my own – yet I have never felt so trapped in my life. The struggle of living no fixed abode is nothing compared to the depression caused by ending up in isolation in a place that I once used to sit in and dream about a future that never came to pass. So begins an almost 10 year journey involving my constant attempts to leave. Be that through attempted flat swaps using the Homeswapper scheme, staying in other people’s houses, vacating temporarily and letting someone else take the lease...and so on. There were lots of different ways that I kept trying to run away from my reality, including times when I was convinced that if I just lived in another location then somehow it would be easier to stay in one place. This is not a criticism of social housing, nor am I ungrateful for being given a housing association flat. But I have had a struggle coming to terms with my past which has made it difficult for me to sit with myself and deal with the responsibility of taking on a tenancy, meanwhile still trying to formulate relationships. In some ways, it is easier to live a chaotic life than to sit still and look at why you lived that way at all. These portraits are of some of the people I met along my journey (some of whom are now dead) and some of the people who I thought I had lost for good, who later came back.