HOMELESS, alone and suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder – a Glasgow refugee managed to turn his life around using the power of art.

Having arrived in Scotland in 2011 as a Kurdish refugee, Adam* was scared, alone, and a long way from home – having faced prison in his birth country due to the fact he was a history teacher.

After struggling with a “dark” first few years in his new country, with no family, friends or permanent accommodation, Adam started to have hope after discovering help was available at The Marie Trust, who encouraged him to pursue his talent in art.

The Marie Trust, which received a grant of £499,322 from the National Lottery in 2019, responds to the complex and often challenging needs of people affected by homelessness, poverty, and social exclusion.

Hillingdon Times: The Marie Trust in Glasgow is striving to end homelessnessThe Marie Trust in Glasgow is striving to end homelessness

It offers a wide range of services, including counselling, cookery classes and expressive arts and art drop-in classes to empower the people it works with and equip them with the tools and skills to improve their current living conditions.

With support from The National Lottery, The Marie Trust have been able to hire a pharmacist who carries out social prescribing for people who have experienced homelessness, using services with different expertise, as well as continuing the positive work they do through their variety of productive session.

Adam identified that art had been highly supportive for improving his confidence, reminding him of his creative potential, allowing him a break from negative thoughts, and giving him something meaningful to work towards, as well as giving him a productive therapy for his PTSD.

Thanks to the support at The Marie Trust where he took art classes, Adam managed to study at the City of Glasgow College for Fine Art, and earn himself a spot at the Glasgow School of Art.

Hillingdon Times: Some of Adam's artwork on displaySome of Adam's artwork on display

“When I came to Glasgow as a refugee, I knew that I could not overcome both the negative effects of my experience in my country and the difficulties I would face here alone,” said Adam.

“I had no plans or goals but just to survive and protect myself – I felt like I was in a dark tunnel and did not want to move.

“My psychologist wanted me to keep my mind busy with things, but I didn't know what to do - I felt lost.

“Things started to change when I got into art because I really enjoyed being at the Marie Trust.

“People have problems like me, and so it felt comfortable – it takes me time going to a new place as I'm not comfortable being around new people. The Marie Trust guided me to the light at the end of the tunnel I had lost. It has been the place that helped me the most in solving many problems I faced to maintain my daily life.

“As well as helping with my life, they helped with my course and studying, and I find comfort in the fact that they are there any time I need them.

“I’m hopeful for my future – hope is always there. I hope I can one day go back to my home when it is safe.”

Frances McKinlay, Chief Officer of The Marie Trust, said: "We're really fortunate that we've been really well supported by The National Lottery.

“The biggest impact the grant has had is that we've been able to deliver new services. Having the money to employ a pharmacist has been life changing for people and it wouldn't have been possible without the funding.

“Trauma takes time for people to heal - it will always be there and we just help people cope. We worked with 2,700 people just in the last year - the demand is there.”

Strictly Come Dancing star Neil Jones, who struggled with homelessness as a teenager, is highlighting the incredible support National Lottery-funded homeless projects have provided to people all over the UK during the last 10 years.

The 31-year-old professional dancer is now a regular fixture on screens across the UK, but just a few years ago he was in a very different position and, for a brief time, he even found himself sleeping rough on the streets.

With Christmas fast approaching, Neil is helping to highlight the extensive funding and support The National Lottery has provided to homelessness projects over the last decade.

Hillingdon Times: Strictly star Neil Jones has opened up about his own experience of homelessness as a teenagerStrictly star Neil Jones has opened up about his own experience of homelessness as a teenager

Since 2010, more than half a billion pounds (over £576 million) has been awarded to more than 3,000 projects that involve or support homeless people or help tackle homelessness throughout the UK.

Jones said: “With winter upon us and Christmas just around the corner, now is the perfect time of year to spare a thought for those who don’t have a home to go to or have somewhere safe, comfortable and warm to sleep over the festive period.

“It’s tough to think about the difficult things they’re going through at this time of year because it’s such a time of joy for most of us, but it’s important to recognise that there are so many people out there who really do need our help.

“Thankfully, there are countless incredible charities and organisations doing some really incredible work supporting homeless people across the UK with National Lottery funding.”

The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, alone has awarded more than 600 grants worth around £80 million to projects that involve homeless people since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.

David Knott, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, we are able to provide much-needed funding to incredible organisations that are making an important difference to people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.

“Whether supporting people experiencing homelessness to improve prospects for employment, supporting with mental health or providing a safe place where people can build their confidence and self-esteem, dedicated groups and their volunteers are working tirelessly with the homeless community, so that they are better able to overcome challenges and hopefully go on to prosper and thrive.”

Thanks to National Lottery players, more than £30 million goes to good causes across the UK every week, which in turn helps charities and organisations which support homeless people in our communities. To find out more about National Lottery funding go to www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/funding.

*Not real name