Stuart McDermott

Stuart, 39 and from Durham, served in the Army from 2002-2004 and again briefly in 2008. He has experienced homelessness, and now lives in social housing.

I joined the Army when I was 19. My grandfather served and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I was a Signaller, and served in Germany and Iraq. I left as I was unwell, mostly with stress.

Soon after, I was the victim of fraud and got notice to leave my flat. I stayed with family for a bit, then ended up sleeping in the woods under a poncho for six weeks. It was rough, and really cold.

I was then in hostels in London, but it was impossible to survive on the money I was getting. So I went back into the Army for a bit, but then I broke my shin bone.

Things picked up in 2009, as I went into the Merchant Navy and was doing well. I then worked in security for a while too, but about ten years ago things got difficult again.

I never got the help I expected from the local council. I’ve moved around a lot, staying in different hostels. It makes you feel like you have no roots. It affects everything – your employability, your relationships.

About a year ago I got a place with Stoll. I like where I’m living now, and I’ll have a support worker soon, which will really help. But it’s taken a long time to get to where I am now.

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