“I went from working as a stonemason and having two cars, a flat and a good life, to everything just falling apart.”
Bryn and his Staffordshire Bull Terrier Flint are residents at St Pauls temporary accommodation in Bournemouth.
“Two years ago I had it all. Then my dad became ill and I nursed him until he died. I had a full mental breakdown and lost my flat and everything,” he explained.
“Thankfully I didn’t lose my dog Flint. I have had him since he was a puppy. His mother died just after he was born, so I bottle-fed him with special milk from the vet.”
Bryn continued: “I came to Bournemouth from Wales to escape and try to rebuild. St Pauls gave me and Flint a place to stay. I’m told it’s one of the only local hostels to allow dogs. I could never have come through the door without Flint. But without them I think I would have taken my own life by now.”
St Pauls can accommodate 40 people in their own rooms. At the time of writing this, there were also five resident dogs – plus staff dog Scooby – on site.
Bryn continued: “St Pauls has a gym where I work out and I am building a bike through BCHA’s cycle workshop. The staff are upbeat and positive every day.
“They’re there to help you in everything. And will even just listen if you just need a rant. While I’ve been here, I’ve also had help from the Street Paws scheme to pay for Flint’s vaccinations and vet bills when he became ill with gastroenteritis."
“I am 18 months sober and have my good days and bad days. But I am determined that Flint and I will be out of here and in our own place soon. Then I will be back to work and building a better future for us both.”
Hannah Brightman, Senior Practitioner at St Pauls said: “Many people come through the homeless pathway owning dogs. They are often their dearest companions and have brought them safety and warmth while street homeless.
“It is imperative there are more buildings like St Pauls which are animal friendly, as most people simply will not give up their pets, not even for a roof over their head.
“We are really proud to be a provider offering this opportunity. We also love our dog residents, as they bring happiness and joy to the building!”