Robert has been coming to the day centre regularly for years. He does not want to use his real name, and barely ever speaks about his personal life. He is originally from Slavonija; an area in Eastern Croatia where he lived in a family house with his wife and kids. When their marriage broke down, he divorced his wife and had to leave the family home. He came to Rijeka looking for a job but he didn’t realise that his ID had expired. His ex-wife had already given notice to the local authority that he wasn’t living with them anymore, so suddenly Robert did not have an address – a requirement when applying for an ID. But without a valid ID he also couldn’t rent a room to attain the required address. It was a direct path on to the streets. He started to live in an abandoned building close to the centre of town – an extremely derelict building; dangerous to live in – and developed a strong alcohol addiction.

When the day centre opened its “living room”, the team managed to persuade him to spend his afternoons there rather than roaming the streets. He now stays with us for longer times during the day, reading and joining in with activities. We have noticed that he has reduced his alcohol intake and his communication skills have also improved – he now talks to other clients as well as staff about a variety of topics and is generally more sociable.

However, even though Robert took slow and steady steps towards reintegration and managing his addiction, due to the law, for a long time he still was not able to get an ID which resulted in him not even being able to access the most basic shelter accommodation. This means that under current regulations he couldn’t move out of homelessness.

But, patience and not giving up on people is a characteristic of Depaul. After ten years of not having an ID we helped him to get one. A step forward, a new life chance for Robert!