At a young age, K had been taken away from his parents as they were incapable of looking after him due to drug and alcohol use. He was then adopted at the age of 4. K was removed from school aged 14 and never returned to education. At 17, K’s biological mother got back in contact with him, which triggered a serious mental health crisis for K. He began to self-medicate on alcohol, crack cocaine and heroin. K’s adoptive parents then asked him to leave the family home resulting in K being made homeless at 17.   

Whilst homeless, K resorted to sex work to gain money to support his drug usage. Dysfunctional relationships with older men only worsened his mental health at a time when he was extremely vulnerable. 

K had been into prison 14 times, had difficulty coping and attempted to hang himself and self-harm on numerous occasions. K resorted to spice to cope in prison. Before being accept into Ark, K was held under s.136 of The Mental Health Act 1983 when he attempted suicide by jumping off a bridge into the river Thames. 

Given K’s history, Ark dispensed with the usual criteria requirements so that K could be accepted into the service and be provided with accommodation and stability. Ark staff co-produced a support plan with K that enabled him to feel supported and cared for and to visualise a future for himself. 

K was supported by Ark staff to engage with both mental health services and drug support services. Staff accompanied K to meetings and initiated discussions between K and professionals. K has been supported by Ark staff to attend a suitable LGBT support group to enable him to explore his sexuality in a safe environment. Whilst living in Ark accommodation, K has been supported to attend a 6-week volunteering programme with Vauxhall City Farm, as K stated in his support plan that he wanted to work with animals. K has maintained his abstinence of crack cocaine and heroin use whilst on the Ark programme.

“If it wasn’t for these guys I wouldn’t be where I am today.”