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My view: Alex McKay

November 5th 2014

It’ll be seven years this month since I decided to give up the tenancy of my bedsit and move in with my then girlfriend. But very quickly things started to go wrong. It suddenly dawned on me that I’d made a terrible decision.

I moved out and stayed with my 68-year-old father, but didn’t want anyone to know that I didn’t have my own place. I told people I was having repairs done to my house – I’d say the ceiling had come in, that it was damp – anything to buy me time. In fact, I was sleeping on the couch, my things packed away in boxes.

I lived in a denial for about a year before things got difficult in my family. I went to register with the Glasgow Housing Association – but as far as they were concerned, I’d made myself homeless and was looking at 10 years before an offer of housing would be made. I was in shock: I suddenly realised the severity of the situation. I needed a drink.

I was still working so I managed to let a basic bedsit – just a single room, with five others on each corridor and a communal kitchen. I felt ashamed and embarrassed that I was here at 47 years of age.

I was becoming more anxious by the day and neglecting my health. I hated seeing people who knew me, questioning me. Then things got worse; I had an accident at work and lost my job as a result. I had been a driver and my eye was damaged, affecting my eyesight.

I had no idea how I was going to manage, but housing benefit took the pressure off.

Meanwhile, I was constantly bidding on houses; I did this for about four years solid. I felt helplessness. In the end, I just gave up. It felt as if nothing was going to change. I didn’t feel in control: it affected my health – I was stressed, getting palpitations, had high cholesterol and blood pressure, and I was overweight. The doctor said I was heading for a box.

The day I keeled over I was all dressed up in a suit, volunteering for doors open day at the Glasgow Cathedral – the Queen was visiting. The next thing I knew, I woke up in hospital.

That was when I realised things had to change. The doctor recommended a diet and exercise, and gave me a letter that put me up the housing list. Finally, the call I was waiting from a housing association came, with the offer of a new house. I’ll move in almost seven years to the day that I left my last home.

I feel as if I have won the lottery. Having a key and a door with my name on it. It's a sense of relief and pride.


November 2014



Your View: Foodbanks shame

Upfront: Stop sanctions

An unacceptable hostel?

Strikes causes service fears

Police help stop evictions

First spikes: now it’s cages

Council conspiracy

Film tells rough sleeping story

Rough sleeper powers

In focus: The Indy Ref is over. So what next?

Cartoon: hostel life

The Homeless World Cup

Arts: Theatre review

My view: Alex McKay

Heartbreak Hotel, episode 1

The Demon Drink

Homeless remembrance


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