Markus is safe and sound, thanks to Shelter Scotland

Safe and sound...Markus is grateful for Shelter Scotland's support; he is now happy in his own home.
Safe and sound...Markus is grateful for Shelter Scotland's support; he is now happy in his own home.

From childhood, life has dealt Markus a difficult hand. There has seldom been a safe place to call home and, at his lowest ebb, he struggled to see a way forward.

Thankfully, Shelter Scotland offered Markus a helping hand through its Safe and Sound project in Dundee and he now has his own place to call home.

Call to action...under the banner We're still Fighting, Shelter Scotland is hoping more people will join its campaign in this, its 50th year.

Call to action...under the banner We're still Fighting, Shelter Scotland is hoping more people will join its campaign in this, its 50th year.

Markus said: “Growing up with my mum was like waiting for a ticking time bomb to go off.

“I looked after my wee brother, getting him ready for school, taking him and picking him up.

“But still, all her violence was at me. When I was nine, mum beat me up so bad, I went to the social work department myself.

“I was terrified, going to social services but more scared to stay at home. They put me in a care home then I got sent to this residential school.

Reflection...it's been a tough road for Markus with very many bumps along the way but, with Shelter Scotland's help, he now has a home to call his own and, by way of thanks, volunteers every week with the charity.

Reflection...it's been a tough road for Markus with very many bumps along the way but, with Shelter Scotland's help, he now has a home to call his own and, by way of thanks, volunteers every week with the charity.

“It was the first time in my life I’d ever had stuff stable. But at 16, I was suddenly out of there with no support at all.”

Markus went back to his mum’s but, living there, his depression got worse and he started self-harming. He had to leave and ended up in a series of hostels.

He said: “It was really scary to be 16, in and out of hostels with men offering you heroin.

“All this time, my gran meant everything to me. When she finally got a house, I moved in with her. She was unwell, so I’d get the shopping, make her tea. It was a lovely time, actually.

“I was going to college, doing dance. I got offered auditions in London but I turned them down. “Gran had cared for me, so now I wanted to look after her.”

Sadly, Markus’ gran died when he was just 17. His mum told him to kill himself and “join gran”. So Markus took a razor to his wrists and woke up in hospital. Two years later, Markus hit a new low.

He said: “My best friend died when I was nineteen and I was homeless, bouncing around friends’ sofas.”

Markus found himself standing on a bridge, contemplating suicide. But he heard his gran’s voice, telling him not to.

The next day, he went to Shelter Scotland and met Karen at Safe and Sound.

Markus said: “She didn’t push us to talk; she just listened. And from then, things changed.”

Markus now has his own home, which he loves, and knows there is someone he can turn to.

He added: “When my wee brother died in prison, I wanted to hurt myself again but Karen bought me sketchbooks to express my emotions.”

So grateful for the support he received, he volunteers every Monday with Shelter Scotland.

How you can help Scottish charity

It’s now 50 years since Shelter Scotland was formed to help deal with the unique challenges of homelessness and bad housing in Scotland.

Rather than celebrating the milestone, though, the charity is using its anniversary as a call to action – under the banner We’re Still Fighting.

There are a variety of ways you can play a part in helping the charity achieve its mission, to campaign until there’s a home for everyone in the country.

Shelter Scotland has 37 charity shops across Scotland. So if you want to help, you can make a donation at any of them.

There are shops in Hawick, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Motherwell, Stirling, Kirkcaldy, Dundee, Arbroath, Montrose, Aberdeen and Fraserburgh – to name just a few.

The charity is also hoping for a great turn out for its first Urban Rush Challenge in Scotland on September 2, a unique 15-mile running route from South Queensferry, along coastal paths and through the historic city centre of Edinburgh.

Or if that’s too energetic, why not consider becoming a volunteer at one of the Shelter Scotland services, shops or offices across Scotland – and develop your skills while making a difference.

Readers can also get behind Shelter’s national and local campaigns – voices are louder and stronger together.

Donating money is a simple and effective way to help families get back on their feet and stay in the homes they love. You can text SHELTER to 70007 to donate £3 to the charity. Or why not hold your own fundraiser?

For more details, visit https://scotland.shelter.org.uk.

If you need urgent housing advice, call Shelter Scotland’s helpline on 0808 800 4444 from 9am to 5pm on week days. Calls are free from landlines and main mobile networks.