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Homeless man now CEO of charity to give back

Words by Smiley Team

A man who was once made homeless at just 18-years-old is now the CEO of a foundation working to prevent homelessness in the UK.

Hugo Sugg started The Cardon Banfield Foundation in 2015 to help individuals and families to prevent homelessness or, in cases where prevention isn’t possible, to ensure it does not reach crisis stage.

Hugo lost everything in 2008 when he was barely an adult after his relationship ended, meaning he had to leave his ex-partner’s home, with all of his things in two bags, and 20p to his name. He didn't have family support and was left with no choice other than to sofa-surf for three months, spend some nights in shelters or with host families, and to also drop out of college.

During this time, Hugo even had to spend one night sleeping rough when no supported housing or friend could take him in.

“This was the night my life went somewhere I never imagined," he says. "I was on my own with my only belongings in the 2 bags, no money, no covers, only the clothes I was wearing."

“What did I feel that night? Suicide. Desperation. Hate. Anger. Loss. Panic. Loneliness. Scared. Fright. Hurt. Sadness. Shame.”

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On 12 January 2009, Hugo finally got housed in supported accomodation, but it was only the beginning of a long and difficult struggle to recover from homelessness.

“Three days after I was housed I suffered a mental, emotional and physical breakdown and couldn't get out of bed for about a week. It was like I was tied to the bed, watching my hair fall out, having no appetite, not showering," he says.

“My body was now recovering from the survival mode that I was in for three months and it took about nine months in the end. I was traumatised and it deeply affected my mental health. I lost most of my friends and only had my support worker. She understood me and saved my life.”

After recovery, his experience at such a young age motivated Hugo to become a trainee youth worker with the Council and to run his own project to educate young people about homelessness.

Two years after first being housed, Hugo was able to move out and live independently, get a job and eventually attend university. It was after his education that he realised he wanted to set up a foundation to support those who may be in a similar situation that he once was.

Now, Hugo – through his foundation – is trying to build a strong community across the UK, to ensure there are well-funded and planned services so that no person slips through the safety net.

The Cardon Banfield Foundation is creating an education programme to speak about the realities of homelessness and what to do if someone is ever in that position.

“I generally found that people didn't understand or comprehend the issue," says Hugo. "The general public didn't know what homelessness was about, and still don't. People just think it's all about rough sleeping, but that is the smallest, most visible, form of homelessness."

Homelessness has been rising in the UK for five years, and people like Hugo hope that their work will make a difference.

“Vulnerable people up and down the country are at risk of homelessness and we must step up our resolve to tackle this public health issue. Once we recognise homelessness isn't just about housing, but instead so many other issues like mental health, we can work on prevention and help people avoid or survive this situation.”

Inspired to act?

SUPPORT: You can find out more about The Cardon Banfield Foundation on its website

VOLUNTEER: Crisis UK has an interactive map where you can find homelessness volunteering positions near you.  


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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