A FORMER rough sleeper from Northwich has seen his life on the streets transformed thanks to the council’s Rapid Rehousing Pathway.

Jonathan Thurlwell endured the mental and physical pain of four years living on the streets of Chester, where he was beaten, stolen from and drank heavily.

But his life is now on the up after visiting Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Homeless Assessment Hub in Hamilton House, Chester.

And since opening in April, the 24-hour hub has seen an additional 26 transition from the streets into accommodation.

Life for Jonathan, 38, spiralled out of control four years ago when he split with his ex-partner and began treating his depression with alcohol.

“I was with my ex-partner for 15 years and it was a blow to me when we split up, so I just drank and drank to make it easier and forget what happened,” he said.

“It was hell living on the streets as other rough sleepers would steal money from me, and I ended up going to a Christian rehab centre in Liverpool.”

His life turned a corner in April when helping a young rough sleeper brought him in contact with the forfutures team at Hamilton House, who moved him into supported accommodation.

“I was stubborn and wasn’t engaging with the outreach teams who were coming up to me, but one day I took a young lad to Hamilton House and I realised that it wasn’t such a bad place,” Jonathan continued.

“When I moved to supported accommodation, I was still drinking heavily and I ended up in hospital with pneumonia.

“I went through a detox in hospital and have not touched another drop since I have come out, and I do not intend to.

“The support I have had from forfutures has been brilliant and they visit me every week.

“People should take all the support they can get, and once I stopped being stubborn and went along to Hamilton House, things moved along quite quickly for me.

“I do want a permanent place in the future as well as a job and to do some volunteering work, but it is baby steps while I get myself out of the addiction.”

Speaking about Hamilton House, Councillor Richard Beacham, Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and Growth, said: “The staff at Hamilton House are doing a great job and they are really innovative in delivering support to our local homeless community.

“There are now many effective services on offer and the latest new initiative allows rough sleepers to store their belongings securely while the forfutures team try to resolve their housing needs.

“This ensures people’s personal belongings are accessible, safe and dry instead of being left out on the streets, where they could be stolen or treated as a security threat by the police.

"The service is about responding to the needs of homeless people, whilst also recognising the safety and security concerns of local residents, businesses and the police."

Janet Lawton, Strategic Homeless Lead at forfutures, added: “Jonathan’s story highlights the vital role that the support from Hamilton House plays in enabling people to turn their lives around.

“Our aim for Hamilton House has always been to provide a safe, welcoming and caring place where our team can work intensively with people to assess their needs and enable them to move away from life on the streets.

“The impact that we are seeing so far is really showing how this approach is making more things possible for more people.”