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Tuesday, 10 November 2015

My Homelessness Story

Did you know that over 160,000* households across the UK applied for homelessness assistance for 2014/2015? And I know what you might be thinking - people who end up homeless are usually lazy or drug addicts, or just not working hard enough but that's not true. Let me tell you my story...

At aged 17 I applied to my local housing authority for homelessness assistance. With no legal guardians or any real place to call home, I was in need of my own place asap. As I was under 18 and not legally able to hold my own tenancy I was referred to a local supported housing scheme, the idea being that they would provide me with shared housing and a support worker to help me transition into independent living.

Of course I wasn't the only youth in need of this kind of support. The supported housing scheme had a six month waiting list! Hundreds of youths had found themselves in a similar position to me for various reasons .i.e. their parents had died and they had no guardians or they'd been in foster homes their whole life and suddenly found themselves without a home when they turned 18. My own brother had been homed through this scheme, less than a year beforehand.

For the next six months I found myself sofa surfing and let me tell you, you really learn who your friends are in these kinds of situations. After six long months of feeling like a burden, I was given a place to live - a tiny attic space, with plastic windows and a shared bathroom that had damp. Ok, so it wasn't exactly the Ritz but it was somewhere to call home and it was a huge sense of relief.

I was one of the lucky ones. There's thousands of people across the UK right now that would see a six month waiting list as a luxury, who would give an arm and a leg to stay in a tiny attic space or even crash on a friend's sofa. In fact, approximately 3,000 people are sleeping rough every night in the UK.

Of the 160,000 ish people who have applied for homeless assistance, less than 90,000 were considered a priority. In fact, if you don't have children and are not considered to be vulnerable you probably won't be entitled to housing at all. That's just not good enough. How is it acceptable that in this day and age, there are people sleeping on the streets? That these HUMAN beings are not considered a priority to anyone.

It's time we beat homelessness once and for all. On 4th December 2015 Trinity are hosting The Big SleepOut in Hillingdon. Essentially it is 1,000 people, sleeping in boxes, raising money through sponsorship to end homelessness. Trinity have already changed so many lives through their campaign to beat homelessness and have even opened a day centre in Slough to work with those who are suffering from homelessness.

Trinity and I would love for as many people as possible to sign up to take part in this amazing event. Those people who are brave enough to take part will be entertained by live music, poetry and stand up comedy in the evening before bedding down for the night with nothing but a cardboard box - in the middle of winter. When the music stops, the lights go out and you are alone in your box you have the chance to experience what so many people have no choice over night after night. It is cold, lonely and gives a glimpse of what life on the streets is like for 3,000 people in the UK every night.

To be a part of this amazing cause simply click THIS LINK and sign up or for more details head over to the official Trinity website HERE.

Don't think that homelessness could never happen to you because I learned the hard way that it really could be me.

- A x 


*figures taken from the official Crisis website. 

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6 comments

  1. This is an amazing post - I had no idea! you are so brave and stong!! Homelessness is one of the causes I care most about so I will definitely look at doing this, thanks for bringing it to my attention :-)
    You are an inspiration xxx

    Teri-May | www.acupoft.co.uk

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  2. Wow, thank you for sharing such a personal and powerful story. One of the reasons I love blogging is reading pieces from writers who aren't afraid to be raw and vulnerable. I think homelessness is much more prevalent than the average person realizes. You're helping to support a great cause!

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  3. Such an inspiring post and really brave of you to write! It's amazing how much you have achieved with your blog - go you! It's a really important cause and one that doesn't feel 'real' until you see it first hand. I started volunteering at a food bank last year and it changed my perspective completely.

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  4. Well done to you on being so honest and open about your homelessness story! It's sad to hear you went through that, but it's from that experience that you are helping people now who have been through the same as you.

    With Christmas coming up, and the colder weather it is more important than ever to have people made aware of this, as people do often forget.

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