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Robin was one of our guests during winter 2022. After working away from home on a contract in Dubai he was unable to return to his home in The Philippines due to the strict Covid restrictions there. He was therefore sent to the UK, the country of his birth.
Robin has now safely returned to his wife and family in The Philippines and we’re over the moon that things have worked out well for him.
I often think about my time with all you guys and the wonderful work you all do for the homeless. Until I became one myself you don’t realize how easy it is to become homeless, it was a real eye opener.
I will never forget all that you all did to keep me safe and fed, and one of the things I do think about is the time Claire [Project Manager] & I made Claire [Project Worker] laugh so much that she had to get away from us. She was crying with laughter.
Looking back I was very lucky to find you all. What really surprised me was none of my [UK] family would help me. That’s what hurt the most.
All is well here, all pleased to see me back home, a little strange as it was 2017 my last visit to the Philippines.
I have a lot of work to do on the house that keeps me busy.
I have to do visa runs every 2 months which is a pain …at least it can be done while you wait about 1 hour and it’s about 1 [hours] drive so not too bad. Visa runs out at the end of May, but I can now become a resident. Slowly getting sorted out with everything.
Charlie became one of our overnight guests during our first winter of operation. At that point he had been street homeless for many years. Although he is now housed, he sometimes comes to us for meals, additional support and social interaction each winter.
I first became homeless due to my relationship breaking down. I had nowhere to go, so I stayed in a tent down by the river. I was on my own for a few years, but eventually other homeless people settled there too. I made some good friends. I was there for nearly 20 years. We used the soup runs to get through it. There were good times, but it was tough too – I was in hospital for 2 months.
I first came to the MCWS when it opened in 2013. From there I got a place a few years later in Marsham Street, before moving into a shared house 3 years ago, then a temporary flat and finally my own place near Mote Park 2 years ago.
I’ve progressed to having my own tenancy with Golding Homes – which is huge for me and I was really proud that the head of Golding Homes and also the head of housing at MBC visited and called me a model tenant.
The Winter Shelter took me in and looked after me when I needed it. I was usually the first one in my bed, sometimes eating my pudding there and also stashing any spare mince pies. The Winter Shelter has helped me get in to work with MBC and got my first place and I’ve really bettered myself from there.
jasmine and clemmo
Jasmine & Clemmo were happy to share this story of their journey with us:
Jasmine and Clemmo have been together for over 20 years and spent well over 10 years of those living on the streets, down by the river in tents or whatever was available. Together with the community that grew down there, they got through some tough times and made good friends. They were regular visitors to the old Day Centre at Lenworth House and to the newer one in Knightrider street.
Ten years ago, they were amongst the first guests to come into the Winter Shelter, where Clemmo jokes that they used to have to go to bed early and hold hands through a wicker screen partition due to the separate male and female sleeping arrangements!
Jasmine’s favourite meal was always the roast dinner on a Sunday evening at Tonbridge Road Methodist Church and Clemmo has very fond memories of Father Bill [Reverend Bill Miller] and Major Grayson Williams [who were involved in the original planning process for the winter shelter in Maidstone].
Not so fond are Clemmo’s memories of the nightly snoring that ensued by certain guests, which resulted in them either being tipped out of bed or their camp bed being dragged into the hallway outside, complete with snoring occupant!
From the early days in the winter shelter, Jasmine and Clemmo progressed into various hotels and temporary accommodation with Maidstone Borough Council, before finally getting their own flat in 2018. They settled in well and have lived there ever since.
As Clemmo said, “The shelter probably saved our lives”.
Jasmine & Clemmo often still come for dinner or snacks, especially now the cost of living is so high, and also to catch up with old friends and volunteers.