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 ‘I was married for 7 years, before I got married I was involved in a lot of crime, I served a sentence for manslaughter. I got out when I was 22, didn’t really sort my life out, and so was just living at my girlfriend’s house and my friends’ houses. I got married but still was involved in a certain lifestyle, my wife was totally alien to that lifestyle, so it caused a lot of arguments because she wanted me to go get a 9-5 [job] and that was the last thing on my mind and then I got arrested for a gun charge and that caused a lot of problems, she just had enough after a while, she wanted out. I never had a fixed address after she kicked me out.  My friend is an estate agent so he had the keys to a property. I was staying there, no sheets, no bed, I had to take of the curtains and literally wrap myself up. I was too embarrassed to go to some of my friends and stay at their house.’

It was around this time that Siddiq was recommended to get in touch with OC connect a criminal Justice charity, there his support worker told him about StreetLink and helped to complete a rough sleeper referral. The outreach team found Siddiq and took him to a No Second Night Out hub. Siddiq recalled getting assessed and his first experiences of being in the hub..

‘In the line of questioning I broke down and started crying. I think I just realised where I was, I never expected to end up in a place like that in my life. I remember being there, it was a culture shock being on the floor but I got caught talking to people and realised that everyone has got a story, the staff were nice. At NSNO I knew that at least there was hope, it can’t get any worse, and it can only get better. It’s only going to get better that’s why I stuck it out’.

The staff at NSNO managed to help Siddiq into supported accommodation, where he remained for a few years.

 ‘After leaving, I wasn’t really much doing with myself, but I’ve got 4 kids and I need to raise money for them so I was stuck between a rock and a hard place, I hadn’t worked properly for years but at the same time I had a few experiences with street life that just made realise that I’m getting old now, and all my friends are in Jail.’

At the beginning of this year, he managed to get a job with the help of a friend in a service providing supported accommodation to vulnerable adults in the Croydon area.

 ‘Initially I was supposed to be a personal assistant to the main manager and then there was a situation where we had to go to one of the clients houses, just by accident I got talking to one of them, a very troubled guy and just by speaking to him he opened up, so his support worker was like “he’s never opened up like that to me”. He went back and told the manager that I got this guy to speak about his problems. [I explained to her] I come from a support background, I come from prison, I come from the bottom, it’s not hard for me to relate. So she went through process of getting my DBS to clear, she put me on the front line. ‘

‘It’s quite good a lot of the kids that come through, know me already because I was quite notorious. So it makes it easy they can see that someone can change their life. It’s quite good because, [the manager] promoted me to become gang intervention manager because I come from that environment, I know the demographics, I already know the gang politics of the different areas, without my input it could be dangerous. I know that I’m making a difference with a lot of these kids.’

 ‘I wouldn’t have thought I would have made it to this level. I’m actually on the other side, so when I am talking to clients there is nothing they can tell me that I haven’t heard before. It makes my job easier because I can relate to them. I want gain more experience in what I am doing, I am also doing a lot of media stuff, music industry. I have just come off tour with Lil Wayne. It is very time consuming but luckily I’ve got an understanding manager. I feel like there is going to be a major progression somewhere [in my life], I’m ready for it.’