I was homeless, I was you

I was homeless, I was you

I never thought it would happen to me.

I had worked for over 20 years in restaurants and kitchens. I had two beautiful children and loving parents.

Despite that, I became homeless last year. You would never have guessed if you walked past me in the street, but I no longer had a home to call my own.

Because of my two children, I didn’t end up sleeping on the streets, but I now know how easily that can happen.

We had been living happily in our rented house in Fishponds for seven years, but the house had fallen into a bad state, and we had to leave to allow the repairs to be done.

A knee operation meant that I was no longer working, and I realised that there was no-where affordable in Bristol if you are on housing benefit.

Even places that were tiny, smelly and dirty were out of our budget.

When you are on housing benefit the door is closed in your face. People don’t even respond to your emails.

I had no idea where we were going to end up and that was scary, so I went to the council and declared myself homeless. We were given temporary accommodation. 

The worst bit was the guilt.  I felt like a failure as a mum because I wasn’t able to look after my family properly.

Before I became homeless I started volunteering at St Mungo’s and while living in temporary accommodation this became a full time role. The job has been so important to me, as it has given me a sense of purpose and really helped my mental health when I was at my lowest point.

It has been a distressing journey, full of tears and sleepless nights, but a few weeks ago, me and my daughters moved into a council home in Barton Hill. 

It is early days, but now we can finally settle down and put down roots. It’s the little things like being able to put photos up, things that other people take for granted.

I know things might be difficult for you, and you might be scared, but there is help and support out there. You might feel too embarrassed to go to the council for help but please don’t bury your head in the sand.

It's never too late to turn your life around.

Aged 40, Barton Hill.