"My name is Kevin Mckenna, and I am a recovering addict. This is my story and how I came to be involved with Streetlytes...
I am Irish and 37 years old with a 22 year history of heroin addiction. When I left Ireland, I had lost everything dear to me, my family, my home and my girlfriend who had died from a heroin overdose. I found myself alone and homeless, with no money in London and for the first time in my life my safety net was gone and I was alone, scared and hungry.
I was standing with other homeless people in Westminster during the winter of 2010 and we were hoping a soup run would arrive as it was so very cold. A couple of guys approached us and asked if we would like a hot meal and sit inside for a while and we said yes of course!
We were taken to a hostel and given a home cooked meal . Our new friends sat and ate with us and were very respectful – they didn’t ask any intrusive questions and for the first time in many months, I felt a sense of family. Although I didn’t know them, I felt as if I could trust them and I found to my amazement that they had come from a similar background to me and they were addicts in recovery. Talking to them gave me some hope for my own battles with addiction. After the meal, it was time to go back onto the streets and we were given clean clothing, some food but above all, I was given respect and dignity. Before I could thank them, they thanked me for coming. Who are you I asked? Streetlytes was the reply.
I was told they would be here again in a few days and they would love if I visited again. A few cold days and nights passed but sure enough the same two guys showed up again and invited me to eat. We had a really nice time and this continued for several months.
After engaging and talking with the volunteers, I felt inspired to get clean and off the methadone. I wanted to come off it for good and for the first time in my life I asked for help with my addiction. I knew that it was going to be impossible detoxing from methadone on the streets and so did my friends at Streetytes said they would see what they could do to help.
A few days later, and to my amazement again, I was asked if I would like to go and view a room in a flat! I was worried as I had no money at all for a deposit or rent in advance but I was told not to worry and just go along and see if I liked and wanted the room. I certainly did and said yes straight away!
What now I thought? Kevin they said "this is the alternative and the rest is up to you, the support to get well is here if you want it" It was just up to me to get and stay clean.
I am happy to say that with the help and support of Streetlytes I am now clean and sober and a volunteer myself with Streetlytes doing outreach work in Shepherds Bush helping homeless people the way I have been helped.
I thank God everyday for Streetlytes for giving me back my self respect, my dignity and my faith in humanity."