From Rough Sleeping to Stand Up comedy
A journey of friendship and laughter
Paul was homeless, isolated & lonely, struggling with drinking & gambling following his son’s death. Less than a year later he performed a stand-up routine at the Comedy Club in Birmingham. Here’s his story. #makinghomelessnesshistory
In comedy, they say timing is everything but there is no better timing than God’s timing:
A vacancy came up just before Christmas last year and we were able to move in someone who was homeless. Christmas Day was spent in a new home and Christmas Dinner was at the home of a ‘friend with a purpose’ from the partner church. Paul began the New Year as a Hope into Action: Black Country tenant, with the loving support of a new church family and an empowerment worker.
Paul’s journey with us has been one that we are delighted to share with you. It demonstrates the impact that a loving home and positive relationships can have on someone ready to rebuild their life. What makes his journey remarkable is his readiness not only to change but his courage to take on any challenge in order to help others.
Paul recently performed his first ever stand up comedy routine to a packed Glee Club in Birmingham. Paul not only nailed the routine in front of 400 people but he also managed to sell fifty tickets to the event – raising hundreds of pounds for Cancer Research. Just seven months prior to this, Paul had found himself homeless when his life spiraled out of control after losing his son, Neo to leukaemia.
He lacked the necessary supportive relationships to cope at this time of crisis and found himself homeless, isolated and depressed. This led to drinking, gambling and struggling with his mental health. In just seven months he has totally transformed his life with the help of a new network of support around him. Honest and open about his addictions, Paul engaged in GA and AA meetings regularly. He completed the Fresh Start program at a local church, maintaining his road to recovery.
Paul also started volunteering weekly at the Wolverhampton Church Shelter. And then… just when an empowerment worker couldn’t be more proud of a tenant’s progress, he signed up to the Ultimate Comedy Cancer Research charity event and began training in May with professional comedian, Steve Cook.
The weekly comedy training resulted in a comedy performance to a full house at the Glee Club. Over 400 people watched Paul confidently smiling and joking on stage – the audience, myself included, were in stitches. But only fifty people knew of Paul’s courageous journey -Seeing him in action, was seeing what Hope into Action can do.
And back to top it all off, Paul’s sell out performance at the Glee Club marked the first anniversary of his son, Neo’s death.
Without the support of Hope into Action: Black Country, I would not be the person I am today or the person I will become in the future.
Here’s what Paul had to say about the event and Hope into Action: Black Country:
I would like to thank everyone at Hope Into Action for everything they have done since I moved in to one of their properties in December. When I first moved in my mood was very low. I felt alone and without purpose in life.
My empowerment officer Kate is so amazing. I cannot thank her enough. From the early morning phone calls to get me out of bed and the impromptu offers of coffee for a chat and a catch up. For the first time in my life I have somebody who is prepared to really listen to what I have to say.
She signposted me to Gamblers Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous. I attended my first meeting on January 4th and have not gambled since January 18th. I have also not touched alcohol since January 13th either.
Without the support of Hope into Action: Black Country, I would not be the person I am today or the person I will become in the future. They and Kate in particular were a big part of introducing me to all the people who now support me and with whom I have become friends:
· There is Simon who was mentoring me from the church – he is cool. He helped me out a lot with my tax issues, and also a bit with my finances and budgeting. He also took me out for breakfast and lunch and we were able to just chat. The last time we met up we just watched the football together and it was chilled and relaxed with no agenda.
· There is also Andy who runs the Fresh Start course. We are still friends and in contact through Facebook. Occasionally we have done homeless street outreach together on the same team and I see him at the shelter when I am volunteering.
· Not to mention the whole team from AA where I have met like-minded individuals who I can relate to and who get me. They have been an essential part of my journey.
I really have made some great friends and it has been so amazing having lots of different people around me. I cannot walk around Wolverhampton without bumping into someone that is part of my support network or who I have met through them.
And many of these guys came to the comedy night at the Glee club which was amazing. Just to have so many people who have helped me over the last 6 months in 1 place was a joy to see. I was pretty nervous, however I did my best to make my friends laugh – I think I did – and I was the only performer to stand up there alcohol free!
It was a fantastic evening and I am so grateful to everyone for their support in buying tickets and sponsoring me. In total the whole evening raised £8,000 for Cancer Research.