Seeking support for homelessness
In the next part of our interview with Emily, Georgia, James, Kyle and Emily T, we asked them about their experience of looking for help after leaving home. They gave us their top tips and advice and were really honest about how hard things can be sometimes when you’re trying to get things sorted and find a place to live.
This interview was organised through Youth Voice, which is part of St Basils homeless charity and works all over the UK to give voices to young people aged 16-25 who have experienced homelessness. This is the second in a series of three interviews, so watch this space for the last part.
The Mix: If you could give your younger self any advice, what would it be?
I should have left quicker than what I did. I always had family support workers and social workers in my life since a little age, but they didn’t really do much to support me – apart from leave me with my mum. Then after a bit I got moved to Weston–super-Mare and then I came back to Birmingham, lived with my nan, didn’t like it, then moved with my aunt and didn’t like it, so I went into care.
Get involved and learn as much information as you can so you can help others who will be in a similar position.
It isn’t your fault! Despite odds you pulled through and have managed it. Be STRONG!
That although the next few months and years will be tough, things do get better.
Take a break every once in a while and look after YOURSELF. You are the main priority and if you’re unwell, then everything else stops.
The Mix: What was your experience like when you were looking for support?
My experience was the best. I loved having my own room, kitchen and bathroom together. I liked the fact that there were only 10 people in my hostel. I liked the fact that support was just downstairs when I needed it after struggling with my mental health.
I liked the fact that we didn’t really have a time to be in apart from 12. I liked that fact that I called it home even though it was a hostel. I loved the fact that I had key worker and we went through the little stars to see if I improved or not from the beginning to the end of my time there. I moved into my own place. I loved the fact that I was independent. I liked the fact that I got engaged with other professionals.
Good and bad! Good because I got help in the midst of hardship. Bad because if there was more information out there for young people, being homeless could have been prevented.
The Foyer staff were great but overall help was a bit sparse as I seemed to have slipped through the net. However, keep asking and you will get something.
Finding support was easy but often accessing support had long waiting lists and could take months to come into fruition. Some support agencies were incredible, for example St Basils were incredible and gave a lot of support even if it just was venting about general things rather than just homeless–related issues. Some support organisations were terrible and just left you in your room, wouldn’t give you meetings with your worker. In one instance a place told me off for giving first aid to a stabbing victim and then threatened to evict me after I’d done a police statement about the incident.
Awful. The benefits people ridiculed me and wouldn’t help me without a copy of my dad’s death certificate, which I didn’t have until they had performed an autopsy (three weeks later). They also claimed I had been overpaid which I hadn’t been. This led me to have to pay back £500 I didn’t have, over the course of three years whilst at university, which affected my credit score, meaning I couldn’t have a student account with an overdraft.
The Mix: What was the most helpful piece of advice you were given when you were homeless?
To always keep fighting no matter what. You always get stronger by getting through things. When I heard this at first I couldn’t believe it, but when I saw the better picture of my life again, I was grateful for the service at St Basils.
If you need anything, ask!
You will get through it!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Yes, you may be seen as the person who always needs help or money etc, but at the end of the evening, that thing will have been done and your heating will have credit because you asked for help.
If you’re worried you might need to leave home…
Have you been feeling like you might need to leave home? Or perhaps you’ve already left and you’re not sure what to do next. Know that you’re not alone and we’re here to listen to and support you. The Mix offers free and confidential support on housing and any other issue you may be facing. You can contact our trained team here to speak to someone today.
The Mix would like to thank Youth Voice, St Basils, Emily, James, Kyle, Emily T and Georgia for their involvement in the interviews.
- Crisis helps single homeless people, aiming to break the cycle of homelessness.
- Shelter offers advice on all housing issues. Get advice here or by calling their housing helpline 0808 800 4444. If you're in Scotland, use http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/
- The Albert Kennedy Trust supports LGBT people aged 16-25-years-old who are homeless or living in a hostile environment. AKT has offices in London (call on 020 7831 6562), Manchester (0161 228 3308) and Newcastle (0191 281 0099).
- If you're under 25 and would like free confidential telephone counselling from The Mix to help you figure things out complete this form and we'll call you to arrange your first session.
- Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
- Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.
By Holly Turner
Updated on 23-Jan-2020
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