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Posted on 8 July 2024

How Down Town supports people: James’ story

Burnley Together provides essential support to those who need it most – including people like James, who found himself homeless following a difficult break-up.

Back in 2023, James stepped through the doors of Down Town in Charter Walk for the first time. ‘Downtrodden’ after relocating from Scotland, he found himself in a cycle of sofa-surfing and street homelessness whilst battling alcohol misuse.

Amanda Carter, a Key Worker at Burnley Together who’s gotten to know James over the past few months, said: “Down Town is a relaxed and welcoming environment. I think James felt comfortable coming in here – he always left feeling a lot better about things”.

Providing essentials to make life easier

Cold weather makes life on the streets even tougher. As the winter months drew in, Amanda made sure James had warm clothes and bedding from Down Town’s Relove the Preloved shop.

James was also provided with food parcels and ‘free paid-on meals’ through the Down Town Kitchen and cafe – a scheme where customers can pay forward a hot meal for someone more in need.

As well as food packages and warm clothing, she provided James with a mobile phone to reduce social isolation and arrange his appointments, whilst also helping him submit benefit claims.

The importance of having someone to listen

Like many people in his situation, James struggled with social issues, including anxiety and low mental health. To help him overcome this, Amanda worked closely with James to build his confidence, ensuring he always felt valued, listened to and supported.

She continued: “Giving him that time to listen to his journey and his story gave him purpose. We gave him a place to feel safe and listened to, that was massive for him.”

Using confidence to get back on track

This new-found confidence in himself meant James felt ready to take on a voluntary position in Down Town’s café. Serving up food and drinks to the community, he always got stuck in and enjoyed the structure his new position brought to his life.

This determination also helped James on the road to recovery from alcohol misuse. Even without the help of substance misuse services, he took the positive steps needed to distance himself from alcohol and changed his lifestyle for good.

Through his voluntary work and work on himself, James’ parents witnessed his willingness and ability to change for the better. After James was unfortunately attacked in Burnley town centre, they allowed him to move back into their family home.

He now enjoys a closer relationship with his parents again. Soon after moving back in, he found a full-time paid position in a factory.

Reflecting on the good news, Amanda continued: “We always gave a place for him to feel safe and listened to. That was massive for him. There’s been such a change in his personality since we’ve known him.”

She continued: “He’s always been approachable, but now he’s always joyful, happy and less anxious.”

Looking to the future

James is now thriving in his full-time role. Although the 12-hour shifts are physically demanding, he still finds time to pop back to Down Town. He often visits Amanda and those who supported him when he needed it most.

Amanda added: “He’s got more structure and routine in his life, and it shows. He’s a really amicable character. He’s always been polite and appreciative, even when he was downtrodden.

“When you see the transformation in someone just from that little time and support, it makes you realise the power of support”.

If you need support or know someone who does, get in touch with Burnley Together on 01282 686402 or pop into Down Town (above New Look in Charter Walk). We’re open Monday to Friday 9-4pm.

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