‘I spent nights sleeping on people’s settees’

Jim Hughes
Jim Hughes

‘I slept on people’s settees’

The Belfast man is currently based in Londonderry, where he lives in a complex at Melrose Terrace in the city, provided by the Simon Community.

“It’s a one bedroom apartment which is part of an independent living complex, and you have your own kitchen and shower etc.,” said the artist, who revealed that he became homeless after losing his job and falling into financial difficulty.

“I had been living in a house in Donegal with my ex-partner and children, but I felt like an economic burden, and I was,” he said. “I felt like I was taking the bread off my kids’ table.

“So I moved to Londonderry. I lived for two years in a house that was an absolute dive - I hated it, but I stuck it out. I had a job on a six month scheme but then I lost it and couldn’t afford the house. so had to give it up.”

Jim was homeless, and he spent the next few months living what he described as a very “unstable way of life.”

He said: “I spent nights in people’s houses, sleeping on their settees, and I would sometimes sleep outside if the weather was good.

“There’s not a lot you can do (when you’re homeless), but at the same time you can’t keep putting pressure on your friends to put you up.

*At the end of last June I went to the Simon Community and they helped me turn my life around by providing me with my own apartment, a nice, hygienic, clean space.

“That took the pressure off me. I am now back chasing work, getting back to my art and doing sculptures again. I’m finally seeing a way forward. I’m trying to turn my life around, but it’s a work in progress.”

Jim says he will be due to leave the Simon Community within the next month or two, as they need the space to help other people in the same situation.

“You do feel that there is someone ‘more homeless’ than you.”