People stories: meet Paul
“If you hadn’t looked after me, I don’t know what would have happened. I’d still be on the streets, or worse.”
Paul, aged 39, has been in Newham since 2017 after fleeing Sri Lanka, where he was tortured and family members were killed during the civil war. After he lost his job in Newham, he found himself sleeping rough and his PTSD and depression grew worse.
Thanks to our NEWway partnership, he found refuge at local night shelters. Our teams then helped him to secure temporary accommodation, a social worker, and leave to remain in the UK.
For the past three years, Paul has been an enthusiastic volunteer in our garden, visiting every day it’s open and giving back to the community. He enjoys cutting grass, trimming trees, clearing the ground, planting and observing the seasons and cycle of life. He says working in the garden helps him keep busy and focused, makes him tired and
better able to sleep, he feels fitter with improved mental health, and it’s helped him stay sociable and connected to the community.
This year, Paul has taken on some paid work with the NEWlife team, tending gardens at people’s homes, churches and community centres. He says having a plan for the day helps reduce the flashbacks he suffers and he loves the challenge of getting a job completed within a day.
He says the NEWway and NEWlife teams are like his family now.