Former homeless man now devotes his life to helping others

WAYNE HOOD - Outreach worker for Streets2Homes

AFTER an out-of-body experience and a life revolved around drug taking, an outreach worker tells The Harrier how his future has been transformed for good with the support of the charity Streets2Homes based in Harlow.

Wayne Hood, 44, a charity employee with Streets2Homes had just been on a specialised psychological training course when he spoke to The Harrier and realised that he had been suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder since he was a child. This was a contributory factor to some of the serious problems in his life.

He told the Harrier: ‘Drugs are everywhere, but I think alcohol abuse is the most dangerous as it is socially acceptable and easier for people to access.’

Wayne, originally from Harlow, was traumatised when his mother died when he was only 12 years old. This tragedy led to him becoming involved in petty crime and getting into trouble with the police. He ended up on remand in a young offenders institution.

‘I think my problems started when I was in my teens,’ he commented.’ There was always drink at home, and I started getting in trouble with the police.’

After moving to London to start an apprenticeship, his issues started to return and after several failed relationships due to drug abuse he looked for help.

‘I didn’t drink for three years, but I had to isolate myself from most of the people I knew because they were drug users,’ he said.

His father, uncle and grandfather then all died within four weeks of each other and Wayne returned to Harlow, walking all the way from London. The journey took him eight hours and when he arrived at his stepmother’s house he found it empty and that he was homeless.

He said: ‘I originally went to Princess Alexandra Hospital, as I had nowhere to go. I found Streets2homes where I was assessed. I was given a meal and help with benefits.’

Unfortunately it was not to last. Involvement with other drug users caused him to escape to Norfolk.

After working in a club there the stresses of the environment took their toll and Wayne ended up on a beach where there was a 24-hour tent and caravan site with a free washing machine and dryer.

Wayne laughed: ‘I told the locals I was writing a book on coastal life so they would leave me alone.’

Very early one morning he saw a 4×4 vehicle with keys in the ignition on the beach: ‘Something went off in my head and I took the vehicle and drove’. He was eventually arrested and treated for drink and drug withdrawal and suicidal thoughts.

He soon found himself close to death again and decided to give up drugs once and for all. When he stopped his life changed dramatically and quickly.

Wayne immediately re-engaged with Streets2Homes where he now has a job helping Harlow’s homelessness. He told the Harrier: ‘The specialised training has helped me understand my life and now I can give something back by helping others.’

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Sarah Eneberg

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