Benas,
Manchester city centre

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Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am 35 years old and I am from Lithuania. I’ve been here for about four years now but I first came here 12 years ago with my mother and my sister. I couldn’t speak English the first time and I found it difficult to find work. So I went back to Lithuania to get some work. And then I came back.

‘I couldn’t work and I lost my job because of the medication’

And tell us about your cat.
My cat is called Niko. He is seven years old. I have had him since he was a kitten. He was just a few weeks old. He was the only ginger cat in the litter. All the other cats were grey. This was in Lithuania.

How did you get to the UK with him?
He came to the UK officially after he had been checked for rabies and things like that. He has his own European Union passport. I had to hire a private bus to come with him because they would not take him on the public buses. He was very quiet during the journey. It took 30 hours to come over here and he just stayed in his bag. He sleeps a lot in his bag. It is his safe place. He has blankets and toys in there and he can look out.

Niko and passport

Why did you get Niko?
I was lonely. I took him for company. I was sick. I had some mental health problems. So I took him to help me. He is everything to me. Every day I have to look after him. He is my family now. My mother and sister have not been in touch with me for many years.

Tell me about your mental health problems.
The problems started when I was in my twenties. I think it was depression but they never really diagnosed it. They said it was because I was using drugs, but I never used drugs. They just gave me medication and I accepted it because of the way I felt. I couldn’t do anything.

What happened then?
I couldn’t work and I lost my job because of the medication. I was a trained electronic technician in Lithuania and then in London
I was a maintenance worker, but the medication made me sleepy. I couldn’t live with it. I couldn’t work or communicate with people. So little by little I stopped this medication and I feel better now.

Where do you live?
I am sleeping rough at the moment. I need to find somewhere to live. I cannot stay in a shelter or a hostel because of Niko. I have been sleeping rough for about a year now. I don’t feel safe. It is difficult to find another job because I have nowhere I can leave Niko. I would be afraid to think what would happen if I lost him. I worry that if he escapes he will go out and die on the road.

What do you want in the future?
A simple job, some cheap accommodation and a girlfriend. England is my home. There is no work in Lithuania. But now I am thinking about leaving the UK. I don’t know where, but a European Union country. I just want a safe and quiet place for Niko and me.

Interact: Responses to Benas, Manchester city centre

  • kevin johnson
    17 Jul 2017 13:22
    flint,n.wales,a lot of lithuanians here and plenty of agency work !
  • sharon wilkie-jones
    27 Mar 2017 18:39
    I hope you and Niko find a safe home Benas

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