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Tiago spent the first years of his life in London. When he was six years old he moved with his mum to Brazil. Aged 20, Tiago was living at home with his Mum and working as an International Sales Manager. It was a good job but the pay was poor and Tiago craved greater independence.

In the spring of 2016 Tiago moved back to London, having made plans to see family members he hadn’t seen in many years, find work and spend some time learning German before applying for a Civil Engineering course at ETH University in Zurich. Tiago had arranged to stay with his Dad’s ex-girlfriend but the arrangement broke down after a few months.

My Dad’s ex has issues which she was taking out on me. I was talking to my Dad and she assumed I was talking about her – she stormed in and said “if you’re going to talk about me – you can get out”. She was drunk – but that sort of thing was constant and I felt, nah I don’t need this. After that I stayed at my Dad’s. I only stayed for a week, we were getting into fights and in the end he said I had to leave.

Soon after arriving in London Tiago had found work as a kitchen porter. When he left his Dad’s house he was able to afford to stay in backpacker hostels for a while.

You can stay in backpacker hostels for £6 a night – I was working so I could pay that, and I did for a bit. After about a month I had a bit of money and my passport under my bed in the hostel and it was stolen. As I had no ID anymore I couldn’t stay in the hostels anymore.

I stayed on the street for a week and during that time I continued to go to work. During that week on the streets I slept on the grass behind Canary Wharf Station. I woke up the first night with water from the sprinklers on my face.

I tried to talk to my boss to try and get him to help me but that didn’t work. I found another hostel that didn’t need ID but it was too far from the job and I didn’t have the fare to get to work. I ended up having to leave the job and then the money ran out.

Tiago ended up sleeping rough again.

I remember [when I was rough sleeping] a kid he was about 12 – he offered me £5. I didn’t want to take it but I needed it so I said ‘yes please’. It’s humiliating to be in that situation, but you are in that situation, you know what I mean? It’s more humiliating to beg. I was too proud to beg, but I didn’t respect people less who did beg. They’d been there longer than me and maybe I didn’t know what I was doing.

Tiago slept behind a Salvation Army hostel and workers at the hostel made a referral for Tiago to StreetLink. StreetLink alerted the Tower Hamlets Outreach Team to where Tiago was. Outreach workers came out to find Tiago during the night and brought him to the safety of the NSNO North hub.

In the car I spoke to the outreach worker and asked how he did that job. He said he had been homeless himself and that made me feel like I still had a future.

At NSNO an Assessment and Reconnection worker completed a thorough assessment with Tiago and then worked with him to secure suitable accommodation. Tiago moved on from NSNO into a YMCA hostel. With the stability of somewhere safe to stay Tiago is making plans for his future.

The YMCA is nice. You get a bed, a desk and a sink. You get breakfast and dinner. It’s cool. I have some friends in the YMCA.

Right now my plan is to get a part time job, then save up and get a bike so I can work as a delivery man. In the long term I still want to study Civil Engineering. I love studying, maybe I’ll even do a Masters’.