‘I considered silly things like killing myself’ - former homeless man backs Mitzvah Day campaign

Kyle Kitchen. Picture: Martin Godwin/Guardian News & Media Ltd.

Kyle Kitchen. Picture: Martin Godwin/Guardian News & Media Ltd. - Credit: Martin Godwin

Kyle Kitchen slept rough in Camden for two months before turning his life around with the help of St Mungo’s homeless charity. He is urging Ham&High readers to get behind Mitzvah Day’s Give Away Your Lunch campaign.

A year ago, Kyle Kitchen was clambering into bushes at night in search of a place to sleep.

The 27-year-old wandered the streets of Camden between October and ­November last year – a homeless young man with no one to turn to.

“I was sleeping around Camden, mainly on Finchley Road,” he ­explained. “I was sleeping in bushes for a few weeks. I would stay up all hours walking around, trying to find somewhere reasonable to sleep.”

Having lost his job and fallen ­behind on rent, Mr Kitchen was evicted and his life spiralled out of control.

“I had a lot of family and relationship breakdowns,” he said. “I had mental health problems, alcohol and drug problems and it led to me becoming fully homeless and sleeping rough.

“I felt really lost. There were times when I considered doing silly things like committing crime to go to prison or killing myself. It really did get that bad. I couldn’t see my life going anywhere.”

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Having hit rock bottom, Mr Kitchen was referred by Camden Council to St Mungo’s, a homeless support charity for rough sleepers across London.

He was offered a place at one of St Mungo’s hostels in Covent Garden.

“I found it quite unnerving at first,” he said. “I was going into a completely strange environment.

“I felt really out of place and it did take a while for my key workers to get through to me and explain how I could turn things around for myself. From there I ­addressed my issues – my family life, my friends, my mental well-being.”

Mr Kitchen began volunteering for St Mungo’s – providing advice and support to service users – and before long he was offered a full-time job in the volunteer department.

He now has a home in Prince of Wales Road, Chalk Farm, which he shares with his girlfriend.

He said: “Since the help from St Mungo’s, my life has really turned around. I’m working, I’ve got a stable relationship with my girlfriend and friends. I’ve got a really positive outlook on life now.”

Looking ahead to Mitzvah Day on November 17, Mr Kitchen is encouraging people to get behind the Give Away Your Lunch campaign, supported by the Ham&High, adding: “The homeless person is no different to any of us. They’ve just been unfortunate to end up in the circumstances they’re in. They just want a little help to turn their life around.

“If people can stop and talk to a homeless person and even buy them lunch that would be greatly appreciated. I’d be happy to know that people are helping others out.”

The Ham & High is calling on readers to sign up to visit a homeless shelter and give away their lunch for Mitzvah Day between Friday and Sunday, November 15-17. Visit www.mitzvahday.org.uk or email eve@mitzvahday.org.uk