The inspirational star of our Christmas adverts
published on 9 Dec 2021
Stephen spent several months sleeping rough after his relationship with his family broke down following mental health struggles, but he is now one of the stars of The Salvation Army’s Christmas fundraising appeal.
Stephen, 36, was offered housing at an innovative modular housing scheme known as Malachi Place run by The Salvation Army in Ilford, and he credits the help provided by The Salvation Army with helping him turn his life around.
The Salvation Army’s annual Christmas Appeal raises vital funds for The Salvation Army’s work with vulnerable people throughout the year, and Stephen’s story has featured in online videos, letters to potential donors, on social media, and on The Salvation Army’s website.
He said: “I knew about The Salvation Army and had stayed in their winter shelter in Ilford a couple of times, so I was very excited to be offered a room at Malachi Place.
“When they said I could go to look at a flat, I didn’t wait for the bus, I walked so fast to get there.
“When I saw the flat with my own bed and shower and toilet, it was a no brainer, I said yes straight away.
“Over the past year, since living at Malachi Place, things have really looked up for me. I am getting help with my addictions and my mental health has stabilised. A GP comes here to see us, and I also have regular health checks.
“I have been engaging with the support workers and the different programmes here, such as art and cookery online or on zoom. My confidence has really grown. I have had help with budgeting and now I am being wiser with my money, prioritising my bills and shopping.
“At Malachi Place, I have a community of friends who have been supportive of me and who I am able to support. Just like any neighbours, we help each other out.
“I am learning independence and I am experiencing for the first time that ‘new home’ feeling in a place I finally feel comfortable in.
“This is a stigma free environment, here I feel that no one is judged.”
This Christmas, Stephen will be with his friends at Malachi Place. He’s on much better terms with his family now and hopes to see them too. And who knows what the New Year will bring?
He says: ‘I’m really excited about the future. The plan is that I will move on from here. My aim is to be settled and get a job.”
In one of The Salvation Army’s online videos, he says: “I’d like to thank all of those who donate to The Salvation Army. You’ve made a big difference. Christmas is going to be a good Christmas this year, being safe, being warm and having food to eat as well. It is a massive difference to a lot of people and I would like to personally thank you all very much.”
People can donate to The Salvation Army’s Christmas Appeal here.