'I was homeless and autistic, and my rugby teammates were there for me'
Two years ago, Lucas Chapman was standing at Lancaster train station, aged 18, without a home in a new city, with just a bag, a dog and five pounds to his name.
Now, with the help of a Preston-based rugby club, he has a home all to himself – well, and his dog Arlo, and cats George and Archie.
It’s been a long journey to this point for Lucas.
His move up north to Lancaster in November 2018, where his family are originally from, came just after his discharge from the mental health unit of hospital.
He said: “One day, things got really difficult at my mum’s house and I just went ‘I need to leave’
“I remember standing in Lancaster with a backpack full of really random stuff.
“I think I had about five pounds at all money wise, a dog, some dog wet food, a pair of socks, a T-shirt. That was about it."
He turned to a member of Typhoons RUFC, the inclusive rugby club he had joined a few months earlier, which welcomes people of all abilities, shapes, sizes and sexualities.
The club put him in touch with Out in the Bay, an LGBTQ+ charity, which helped Lucas find a temporary home at a youth homeless shelter.
From there, he found a nicer base in Lancaster for four months, where he was regularly approached by the Typhoons who checked on his wellbeing, as well as freezing his membership payments amid his difficulties.
He has since found his own home in Lancaster and it’s there that he has spent the past year during the pandemic.
Lucas said: “Right now I’m doing really well. I had a really bad year, for six months of last year my mental health plummeted, and again, they (the Typhoons) were amazing through that.
“It was a lot of adjusting because even though I’ve been in my own house a year and a half, it’s taken me still quite a while to adjust to everything and get in the stride of things, but when I look to the future and ook at things, it’s a lot more clear than it was two and a half years ago.
“I still struggle, but I feel that things are getting there.”