“When this 6”5 man broke down in floods of tears in a park on an SOHK course, it was clear that the tipping-point had finally been reached.”   

Joaquim* started with SOHK in April 2021. The 52-year-old native Angolan had recently suffered a difficult relationship breakdown and the knock-on effect of one hardship had led to many more.  

He had been forced to turn to hostel accommodation after losing his house. They put pressure on Joaquim, demanding him to cover costs. However, complications with his Visa left him penniless; he was unable to claim housing benefits or a right to work permit.

With a background in catering, cash-in-hand kitchen work proved impossible because the hostel was locked after certain times.

To make matters worse, he was denied his visitation rights to see his two children. Due to his difficult living situation, he had neither the space for them to stay over nor the money to take them out anywhere. Joaquim was supposed to be receiving help from a lawyer with the Angolan embassy in London.

Instead, they were taking money from him, and he was unable to go to London to speak to them in person. He had to rely on money from friends and his church. The threat of court loomed over him and, although it did not end up amounting to anything, it exacerbated an already tumultuous and emotionally draining battle.

Joaquim was dealing with everything alone. It was not until his breaking point that he revealed the extent of his difficulties.

SOHK were able to intervene, and the tipping point became a turning point.

Joaquim finished the SOHK programme in June. The course was a post-lockdown recovery one that took place for a few hours, just three days a week. The exercise, mentoring and personal developmental sessions included in it helped Joaquim to gain the resilience and support he needed to overcome the huge burden he felt on his shoulders.

SOHK secured him a new lawyer who specialised in immigration. By the end of October, Joaquim’s Visa and visitation rights were cleared up, so he no longer had to borrow money and was able to sign up for housing associations. After getting back in touch with SOHK, he was able to get help writing up his CV.

In the space of just 9 months, Joaquim went from homeless, without a visa and under severe stress, to being settled and secure.

He works full time in a kitchen, he has a house where his children can visit him on weekends, and he has money which he enjoys using to take them to places in Edinburgh and spend meaningful time with them.

* Name has been changed to protect his identity