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Peer Mentor Tony uses his homelessness lived experience to help others

Peer Mentor Tony uses his homelessness lived experience to help others

At Concrete, we believe that everyone should have a home.

No one wants to live on the streets. No one wants to brave the cold. No one wants to live in fear. That’s why we work hard every day to make homelessness history.

Three years ago, we supported Tony who was sleeping rough on the streets of Stoke-on-Trent.

He’d found himself without a home when he was referred to us by a local rough sleeper team.

We made sure Tony didn’t return to the streets and found him somewhere to stay within our supported accommodation. This meant he finally had a safe and secure place to call home.

We delivered tailored support to help Tony get back on his feet, before helping him secure his own independent flat.

After experiencing Concrete’s support for himself, Tony decided that he wanted to give back and help other customers.

Now he’s a Peer Mentor and supports other people living within our supported accommodation service, who have experienced homelessness.

He shared his story with us this week and told us all about being a Peer Mentor, which he says is now his ‘dream job’.

“It all started when I became homeless three years ago,” said Tony. “It was only for a week, but it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through.

“At the time, Operations Manager Natalie was working with the Rough Sleepers team. She came across me on the streets.

“Natalie got me into a local hostel and off the streets. I’ll always be so thankful to her – I truly consider her to be my guardian angel.

“From there, I started to work with Concrete as a customer. I lived in supported accommodation and within a couple of months they had found me a flat.”

After starting a new chapter thanks to the support of Concrete, Tony found out about our Peer Mentor service.

Tony said: “My support worker told me about peer mentors. She explained the ins and outs and asked if I’d be interested.

“She said I’d be really good at it, so I decided to give it a go.”

Tony now works four shifts a week as a Volunteer Peer Mentor within a supported accommodation scheme.

“A typical shift for me is very addictive,” added Tony.

“I use that word because when I’m on shift and helping people, I don’t want to stop. I just want to keep helping others in any way that I can.

“I really enjoy supporting people through difficult times. It gives me so much joy and it’s a great feeling to know you’ve achieved something for someone in need.

“I’ve always said that if I can help just one person get onto the right path towards a brighter future, then I know I’ve done a good job.

“I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone at Concrete. from the people who got me off the streets and into my own accommodation, to those who trained me to become a Peer Mentor.

“Without these wonderful people I don’t know where I would be today. I’m thankful for the amazing people that I work with as I’m constantly developing my knowledge and skills.

“Being a Peer Mentor and offering support has become my dream job, I just never knew it before.”

Operations Manager Natalie Robertson said: “Peer Mentors are so valuable and their support makes a real difference to our customers.

“Tony’s story is even more special to me as he was on my caseload when I worked on the Rough Sleeper team three years ago.

“He’s come so far and now he’s using his lived experience to help other people which is just amazing.

“We’re so proud of him and can’t thank him enough for how hard he works with our customers.”

Find out how you can volunteer for Concrete here.

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