What is See Me?

See Me is a campaign all about changing attitudes and conversations about people who are struggling and in crisis; they could be experiencing financial hardship, transitioning through or at risk of homelessness.

People who are experiencing hardship live in a world surrounded by negativity, from unfavourable portrayals in the media to a support system that focuses heavily on blame, addressing problems and correcting behaviour.

This negativity only fuels a sense of hopelessness and defeat in people going through a tough time; it leads to people giving up on themselves and their dreams.

But at The Brick we choose to see the potential in people. We’ve moved away from negativity, we work with people to develop their strengths, learn new skills and work toward their goals.

Read our stories

Below you can read some of the stories of the people we work at The Brick. 

Story of ‘B’

The biggest thing for me is I'm able to start being a Dad again!

Before Crisis
I always considered myself a dad above anything else, my child means the world to me. I trained and worked most my life as a tyre fitter, but I on the weekends I liked to help run the family business with my mum. I ordered stock, managed staff, helped do cooking prep, totted up the float and covered anyone else for holidays. I helped to represent the business when the owner wasn’t in. I had my own private rented flat and at that time I was in a relationship.

During Crisis
My crisis started after I spent three years in jail, due to a rough patch in my life. As you can imagine it’s not a supportive environment and at the point, I’d really lost a lot. It wasn’t a good period of my life to tell you the truth.

I’d been referred into temporary accommodation after prison, which has lots of people living there in need of support. To be honest, I was very lonely at that time because I didn’t want to associate with drug users and people who needed support. I’d had my own place and I didn’t feel that I needed supported accommodation, I could look after myself. I’ll be honest I felt judged, everyone was treating me like someone who needed support but I’m a grown adult.
What made it even harder was that I was trying so hard to get out of that living situation and I was constantly getting knocked back for other accommodation and I wasn’t sure why they were knocking me back. That was frustrating.

I had some support from probation, but they were honest with me and told me that I just didn’t fit a certain criteria to get into these places. I lost heart at that point, and I gave up on thinking things could change, I ended up street sleeping.

I felt that people assumed things about me when I was on the street, that people saw me only for my housing situation. I said at the beginning of this I considered myself a dad; at that point I didn’t feel like I could be a dad whilst rough sleeping.

The majority of people in Wigan who speak to you when you’re on the street are belting. They give you five minutes to have a chat and because of that you don’t feel ignored, you’d be amazed at people’s generosity. I still felt judged by some people for being homeless though. I do understand there are a lot of divys around Wigan leaving needles and other stuff around, but I felt tarred with the same brush and that isn’t me.

After Crisis
I’ve had a steady journey from there to getting my own place and I’ve worked really hard to build up my confidence and get my spark in life back. I’ve been volunteering with The Brick nearly every day, I feel useful because I’m giving back, I’m treated like an adult and people don’t assume things about me. The biggest thing for me is I’m able to start being a Dad again!

Story of ‘F’

Knowing that people care and won’t judge me makes a huge difference

Before Crisis
I was living with my Partner and son in a rented flat. On Wednesdays and Fridays I went to college and was training to be a hairdresser. My partner works in a pub and we have just enough money to live with some left over for treats and days out with our little boy.

During Crisis
My partner was made redundant during the covid-19 lockdown, he was able to find new work packing in a warehouse but it was a xero hour contract so we didn’t know how much he will earn week to week. Money was tight and we had to cut back, things became so bad that some weeks I couldn’t afford the bus to get to college and we didn’t have enough food for packed lunches for my son at school.

We got behind with our rent and I began to feel like our debts were spiralling out of control. Bills arrived and we didn’t open them as we were scared. When our fridge freezer broke, we didn’t have enough money to buy a new one, so we had to keep food cold in a chiller bag outside the back door. Some days I didn’t want to get out of bed and I felt sad and embarrassed, I didn’t have anyone to tell.

I had heard of The Brick but wasn’t sure how they could help. One night when I couldn’t sleep, I went on their website. They have web chat where you can ask a question. I liked it because I don’t have a lot of confidence to talk on the phone. I asked if they could help me.

After Crisis
A lady replied to me early next morning and asked me a couple more questions. She told me she could arrange a food parcel and asked if I needed any other items like cleaning products or shampoo. The parcel was available for me to collect that day. When I arrived I was nervous, I didn’t want people to judge me or my family but no one asked me any embarrassing questions. I was offered some frozen meat and I explained that my fridge/freezer was broken. The lady on reception phoned someone and they said they might be able to help. The Brick have a place called The Brick Works where you can go and buy really good things at cheap prices and they said they had a fridge/freezer we could have. They also put me in touch with welfare support at Wigan Council, they checked that I was receiving all the benefits that I was entitled to and helped me to apply for a budgeting loan. This meant we could get back on track.

I nip down to the Brick Works about once a week now and pick up little treats and clothes for my boy. It really helps to make my money go that little bit further. Last week I bought a second hand refurbished bike there so now I cycle to college and don’t have to worry about finding the bus fare. It is also getting me out of the flat, I am starting to feel good about myself. My partner is starting to get more regular hours and is also saving up for a bike of his own.

I am still worrying about the increasing cost of food and electricity bills, but I now know The Brick is there if I need help. Just knowing that people care and won’t judge me makes a huge difference.

Story of ‘C’

I grew my independence over time, I've got my own place now

Before Crisis
I always had a clear idea of what I thought my life was going to be like. I had planned myself a career path from school straight into work, I really wanted to get into work as soon as I could. I knew what I wanted to do and I felt like I had a bright future.

I never really got in trouble at school. I did okay in my studies. No drug use. I was well behaved.

During Crisis
Things started to not go well when I lost my job, which was due to redundancy. That meant I wasn’t earning, so I had no money. I was fresh out of school, so I wasn’t old enough to claim benefits and with very little job experience it was hard to find work, I couldn’t pay any rent to my family and that put a strain on my relationship with them. I was between a rock and a hard place.
I felt like a disappointment to my family, the black sheep. I really wasn’t proud of myself at that time, and I ended up leaving.

I stayed with a friend because that was the only option I had. My friend was into drugs, when I was staying with them, I felt pressured to blend in and so I took drugs. That lead to addiction and over time that addiction got worse. At that point I wasn’t in contact with my family, all the people I knew were into drugs, I had no one to talk to or turn to for help.

To get myself out of that situation I ended up sleeping on the streets. I’ve never felt worse about myself than that point. I felt people saw me as a different to what I was, they saw me as a failure, that wasn’t the future I imagined for myself at school. On top of all that I was completely alone, the people I knew had all been my mates when I had a job but when I was homeless no one wanted to know me.

All this time I was actually looking for work. Wanted to start a new life but when you’re homeless, you’ve no idea how hard it is to get people to give you a job.

I ended up selling drugs as a quick fix to my money problems, but I was caught and convicted. I was really lucky not to go to prison. That was the point I decided to make a really change, I moved into Leigh hub run by The Brick. I’ll be honest I was scared to enter, I heard rumours about drugs and fighting, thought it would be dangerous but that wasn’t true. The staff made me feel welcome. I felt like Leigh hub was a home for the first time in a long time.

After Crisis
I’ve been 5 months clean of drugs now. Not to sound big headed or anything but I overcame the addiction myself, I was determined to get clean, and I did it.

I’m proud of myself for getting to that point and I’ve reconnected with my family recently, they’re now proud of me too.

I grew my independence over time, I’ve got my own place now and I had an interview for a job the other day, so finger cross I get that.

The biggest thing I’d say to people who’ve never experienced homelessness is don’t prejudge a person, listen to them, hear the story first because you’ve no idea what it’s like until it happens to you. I’d say to people who are going through it, don’t give up on yourself you can get through it, accept the help and things will start to fall in place bit by bit.

Story of ‘T’

Going through homelessness felt lonely, "you find out who your friends are"

Before Crisis
I was living in supported accommodation, things became chaotic and I was evicted. I knew about the eviction, but I left things too late to be supported with this. When I was evicted, I became street homeless for a while, this was the time that my drug use peaked and was at its worse.

During Crisis
Going through homelessness felt lonely, nobody wanted to know, they say ‘you find out who your friends are’, I found out I had nobody. People would pass by and turn their heads away. It was awful.

I was moved into an unsupported tenancy, I became a target in my own home and was bullied, terrorised daily, I did not stay there most of the time because I did not feel safe. The house was set on fire, and I became homeless again. This time I asked for help sooner, I was placed in a night shelter with the Brick, that’s when I started to turn things around.

After Crisis
In the shelter, I felt safe again and began to come out my shell, the staff were supportive, and I decided to begin to work with drug services and began to find hobbies. I got into football, which is something I was always good at from a young age. I was offered supported accommodation, but when I moved in, it did not feel right for me, it was not going to work out. I was able to return to the shelter and I carried on taking up all the opportunities that were available. I got involved with a community tidy up project and planted flowers, cleaned up a park area and received a letter thanking me, and all the others for our hard work. I did a gardening course which I really enjoyed, and I made new friends who had been through homelessness too.

I was offered the right support from services and moved into supported accommodation, far away from where I lived in the past.

I am now free from using drugs, I am learning to budget and always have money every day for things I need, a coffee if I want one, I go swimming every weekend and play football once a week. I have friends who are good for me, and we go and socialise, playing bingo. I am now looking to the future and am working towards being ready to get back to work.

I managed to get myself through a very tough period in my life and now I feel really good about what I have achieved. I now spend my time doing positive things which are meaningful to me and give me stability.

About The Brick

At The Brick we support those transitioning through homelessness and facing poverty in lots of different ways, from providing emergency accommodation and food parcels to training and one to one coaching. To find out more about what we do download our service brochure below…

You can support the work we are doing by donation, volunteering, or applying for one of our vacancies.