Ian’s Story

Before coming to Hestia, I lived in a bedsit for 20 years. Things weren’t great. My landlord kept increasing the rent, and my neighbours would constantly try and pick fights with me.

It all came to a head when one of the residents in the block had an infestation of bed bugs. Our landlord started putting bed bug poison down – this continued over a few months. At the time, I was having to sleep in my chair because the room was packed with items that I had recently taken out of storage.

I have diabetes, and one night, I fell into a diabetic coma. The chair went backwards, and I ended up passed out on the floor, with my face in the poison. I spent six hours breathing it in.

When I regained consciousness, everything apart from my arms were paralysed. I managed to phone an ambulance. They had to climb up onto the roof and smash through the window to get to me, because my neighbours wouldn’t let them in.

I was taken to hospital, where I stayed for weeks, and my living conditions were reported to the council.

That’s when I was referred to Hestia’s Hospital Discharge Service. I was anxious about moving somewhere new. This wasn’t helped by the fact that my landlord kept chasing me for rent payments.

After the first few days, I was quite happy to stay there. I met the other residents and was given a support worker. They helped me to better understand my diabetes, apply for housing benefit and helped me to find proper pillows that would keep my legs raised, as my legs were often red and swollen because of having to sleep in the chair. After a few weeks, my legs went back to normal. I was so happy.

The staff also helped me to sort out the problems with my ex-landlord. They supported me in contacting the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, who said I had a legal case against him because of the conditions I was living in.

Above all, it was just nice to have people to speak to. I had spent 20 years living on my own and just wanted someone to talk with. I don’t take being on my own with no one to speak to very well; I get cabin fever very quickly and start to feel myself going downhill.

I am an avid collector of Yu-Gi-Oh cards – I have almost 50,000 of them. The staff at the service showed an interest in how beautiful the cards are, and that gave us lots to talk about. I even gave them a couple to keep. I am also a pagan, and I was able to teach the staff about my religion. We would talk a lot – my grandmother said I could talk the hind leg off a donkey!

We would have daily chats and share stories. Their presence kept me going.

After six months, I felt ready to move on. The team helped me to find a flat in supported accommodation. At first, I was nervous about leaving. I had got used to Hestia’s service and loved talking to the staff. However, they put me at ease, and helped me settle in. They also worked with my children to surprise me with some furniture in the flat and continued to support me for weeks after I’d moved out.

It’s been 18 months since I moved out of Hestia’s Hospital Discharge Service. However, every now and then I will pop in and see the team and have a cup of tea and a chat. And every time I do, I slip a few Yu-Gi-Yo cards into my pocket and pass them on to the team before I leave.

The Hospital Discharge Service made me feel listened to and respected. I felt like I could be myself. Now, I have somewhere safe to live and somewhere I can be confident, and I’m loving it.

Which book has impacted me the most?

It would have to be Billy by Pamela Stephenson, about Billy Connolly. It’s a real warts-and-all book. Connolly has admitted himself that he wasn’t a great person at the time – he was selfish and paid the price for it. The book is about how his wife, Pamela, kept him on the straight and narrow. I like that.

Which song has impacted me the most?

It’s a song called Who Were the Witches by Bonnie Lockhart. It’s a silly song but it spikes my sense of humour and catches my imagination. It’s listed as a children’s song, but I have no idea why!

Which film has impacted me the most?

There are several. Matilda is one of them. The story itself is quite banal. But, as a pagan, just to be able to watch a film like that and see a child use magic powers in such an intelligent way was absolutely brilliant. I love it.