As a former rough sleeper who has battled addiction, Matthew Waterhouse knows just how the funds and awareness raised by the Molineux Sleepout can make such a positive difference.
Matt had been homeless for 15 years up until the pandemic from where he was placed in a hotel within the city and given access to a range of support services which helped him tackle his addiction and get back on his feet.
Now engaging with the LEAP project with the Good Shepherd which offers training and volunteering opportunities for people with lived experience of homelessness and addiction, Matt can look forward with optimism for a far better future ahead.
“I am a recovering heroin and crack cocaine addict, for 18 years or more, but have now been clean for two years,” he explains.
“I used to go the Good Shepherd when it was based at the Methodist Church in Darlington Street, which is where I got to know Brother Stephen, but I was living a troubled life back then.
“When you are homeless you feel devalued, not wanted by anybody, thinking that people don’t care about you, and then you feel guilty for what you are doing and making things worse.
“Being homeless and also an addict makes it even harder to see a positive way out, it feels like there is no hope because you haven’t even got anywhere to go and get your head down and get away from the madness.
“A lot of addiction comes from trauma-based problems suffered earlier in life, leading to people on the streets feeling lost and alone, and it was only when I started to work through issues and get support during the pandemic that I was able to move forward.”
Matt actually spoke to fans at last year’s Sleepout, telling his story and thanking them for taking part, and believes it’s a vitally important event which can do so much good for vulnerable people across the community.
“Getting to speak at last year’s Sleepout was amazing, seeing so many people who were showing their support and doing what they could to help – that night will stay in my heart for a very long time, he adds.”
“By taking part you are helping people who have absolutely nothing, who have no family, nobody to turn to.
“The fundraising helps the Wolves Foundation and the Good Shepherd deliver the projects they carry out in the city, and there was a real feeling of togetherness with everyone pitching in.
“For me, I love my life again, I’ve got my family back and I feel free.
“It shows you can get away from homelessness and drug use, there is a way out, and I am now passionate about trying to help others.”
*This year’s Molineux Sleepout takes place on Friday, November 18th. Click here to buy a ticket for the 2022 Molineux Sleepout, which cost £30 or £15 for 13-18-year-olds (who must be accompanied by an adult) and participants are encouraged to aim for £150 in fundraising.
A team from the Good Shepherd are taking part in the sleepout. If you can make any donation, of any amount, click here to visit their fundraising page.
PICTURE: STUART MANLEY PHOTOGRAPHY