“I feel ashamed asking for help because I’m not used to it”

A year and a half without a home

I’m 53; I’ve worked all my life and now I’m unemployed, with no money in the bank. I’ve got a qualification in industrial teaching and I was an alpine mountain instructor until I had the accident. That’s where my back problems come from.

At 25, I was a chef. I’ve been Head Chef and I’ve worked in many places. I payed my rent and saved money for the off-season months. In my last job they told me that they didn’t count on me anymore. I tried in another place but they didn’t call me. Until I couldn’t pay the flat. Then I spoke with Arrels, where I had also worked. They provided me a flat; at least I’ve got a roof.

Everything comes into my head. You’ve got no job; nor a benefit payment to survive. What do you do? I didn’t suspect I could end up on the street. I feel ashamed asking for help because I’m not used to.

With the recession I can’t see much hope. There isn’t help for everybody because there are lots like me. It’s ridiculous seeing so many empty flats. The rich are richer and the poor are poorer and, if they lose their flats, they still have to pay the bank. Many people will never recover.

Here they help me to have a roof, but I would like to be helped to look for a job. My back is worse now and I won’t be able to do the job I used to, but I can learn another.

In 15 years I will be retired; if I’m not working now, what can I do?”