Being Homeless coming out the other side
Nobody chooses to be homeless, and sometimes in life circumstances out of our control happens. When you end up in this situation with children, it feels like you have failed as a parent. This hits hard on your mental health. When you have been trying to keep your head above water for so long financially but then your health takes it toll.
There are so many factors to take into consideration relationship breakdowns, ill health, financial difficulties. Before anyone judges remember anyone’s life can go upside down in a flash. Trying to rent privately wasn’t happening due to not having a high enough credit score, having to leave the property we were renting because it wasn’t safe to be living in.
After making an appointment with the Citizens Advice Bureau and them helping us get in touch with Shelter, UK is when things started to go in the right direction. Going to you local council offices in desperation explaining you are now homeless was one of the most dehumanising experiences I had, the advisor didn’t give a crap and just looked through me. I told I had a lot of medical issues and had to collapse my business and where was renting was deemed unsafe.
I had to explain that I was separated but not divorced and that he financially cut me off from the business we both built up, but I didn’t have the money to fight him in court and to be honest the strength. The children and I were all over the place, a friend was away so lent us her home for a couple of weeks, but every day I was ringing and going there to say we are running out of places to go.
Only finally on the day, we had run out of all options was I told that the council had agreed to put us up in a hostel. I will never forget turning up there to be greeted by a lovely lady who could see how distraught I was she put her arm around me and said things could only go up from here. I felt a sense of relief after having to prove documents after documents and bank statements over the previous last weeks.
I will always be grateful for that stepping stone and having a roof put over our heads, but I will never forget how I was made to feel and how I was spoken to. All the stigma attached and the judging about hostels and ending up in social housing is wrong. I believe the advisors who work for the council need to have compassion and empathy and more training before they sit in a room with someone.
For the next few months, this hostel was our home, and it was clean and safe. All the other tenants were so lovely and friendly, and we all had a different story to tell, this is why I say never judge because you don’t know what someone’s been through to get where they are now.
Trying to keep everything normal for the children and a routine was a must and getting them into a new school and gradually build a life again, we didn’t know where we would end up at this point, but we were taking each day as it was. I certainly learnt who was around us during this time and who cared, they say in your darkest times you work out who your real friends are…well this is true!
This was a time in my life that I was at breaking point and every day I was trying to keep it together and putting on a brave face for the children and every evening I was in the shower just crying at the bottom of the shower where the children couldn’t see or hear me. Fighting medical issues and trying to be normal is a hard thing to do. I was also given a mental health support worker during this time, and all I can say about her is that she was my guarding angel, she never judged once!
After eight months we were given the keys to an apartment and was accepted into social housing, and again all I can say is I will be forever grateful for having a permeant roof over our heads, and we could start rebuilding our lives.
All I want to say is no matter how bad it gets, there is light at the end of the tunnel, don’t give up and keep going and you will come out the other side. Below are some helplines and details:
Shelter UK: 0300 330 1234 Shelter helps people with housing needs and provides practical advice and assistance.
Citizens Advice: 03444 111 444
Samaritans UK: 116 123
Whichever town you are in is the council you will need to contact if you get into difficulties.
One day it just clicks. You realise what’s important and what isn’t. You learn to care less about what other people think of you and more about what you think of yourself. You realise how far you have come and you remember when you thought things were such a mess that you would never recover. And you smile. You smile because you are truly proud of yourself and the person you’ve fought to become.
Guest Post Samantha ( names have been changed to protect privacy)