In 2004, Ricky found himself trapped and enduring domestic violence within his marriage. Consequently, he made the decision to leave and move back to the home of his adoptive parents in Swaffham, Norfolk. Tragedy struck when Ricky’s mother died, leaving him the responsibility of caring for his father, who was battling dementia. Eventually, Ricky’s father also passed away. When the family home was passed into the possession of Ricky’s brother, Ricky was left with nothing but grief.
During this period, Ricky was fortunate to have a wonderful girlfriend, and they decided to live together in Suffolk for the next decade. However, after ten years, Ricky’s life took a drastic turn as he suddenly had a mental breakdown triggered by his girlfriend’s son, who had fallen into drug addiction, causing a lot of problems within their home.
One night, Ricky impulsively took his girlfriend’s car, which he was insured to drive, and embarked on an aimless journey into the night. “I don’t know where else I drove to, but all I remember is self-admitting myself into Hellesdon Hospital.” Ricky spent five days at the hospital, and upon his discharge, he found himself in a dire predicament. Sleeping rough with snow falling, freezing weather conditions and nowhere to go, he remained in hiding, fearing legal consequences as his ex-partner had reported her missing car. “They eventually arrested me for stealing her car.” Out of options, Ricky endured several nights on the streets and resorted to begging. “I was cold, shivering, hungry. I didn’t know which way to turn,” he recounted.
In desperation, Ricky found shelter in the form of public toilets in Tombland, where he spent two nights. During the day, he made frequent visits to The Arc on Pottergate, run by The Salvation Army, to get a cup of morning coffee and some sandwiches, providing a brief respite, but still no shelter.
Ricky said, “It’s like you’re invisible; people should have some more respect. We are not all alcoholics; we don’t all use drugs. Homelessness could happen to anyone.”
Ricky was soon offered a room at Bishopbridge House, marking the start of his path out of homelessness. He resided in various St Martin’s services for three years before finally securing a place of his own. St Martins played a pivotal role in facilitating Ricky’s transition, assisting him with moving in and providing essential furnishings, utensils, and curtains.
Today, several years later, Ricky receives support from St Martin’s support workers a few times a week within the comfort of his own home. His life has undergone a transformation; he regularly attends church services and firmly believes that discovering Christianity saved his life, and he expresses gratitude to Lisa, his support worker, for her dedication. He acknowledges that the support he has received from St Martins has empowered him to break down the barriers he had put up and rediscover the joy of living.
He said, “I would give my right arm to St Martins after everything they have done for me!”
When asked about his Christmas Wishlist this year, Ricky’s desire is for a holiday. He reveals that he has not enjoyed a holiday in 25 years. His ultimate dream is to visit America, but he also expresses a longing to explore more of the United Kingdom.