Hiya my name is Shannon. I want to tell you about my experience of being homeless. I’m not homeless now because a lot of kind people have supported me, including the people at Herts Young Homeless. My story might be difficult to hear, it might trigger something in you, but I think it’s worth hearing, cos after all it does end happily.
After listening to it, I want you to know one thing, that no matter where you are, or where you’ve come from you can always come out on the other side. I have had some tough times, and I’ve had to learn a lot.
My story starts when I was aged just three. My mum died of breast cancer. It’s important for you to remember that for later in the story. My dad, who had other children had to make some tough choices. He sent the other kids back to their other families. It was just me and my little sister, and he had to look after us. It was tough on him and to be honest he couldn’t deal with it.
Things got worse as he took out his sadness and anger, mostly on me. Why me? Well I think I reminded him of my mum. My blue eyes, my blonde hair, and my fiery temper.
The only place I felt happy was school, I was doing ok at school. My grades were ok, although they could have been better. There was a lady at school, Janet who really helped me. No matter what and no matter when, I could call her or go and see her at anytime. Even when I moved on from school we kept in touch.
By the time I was 17 things had got so bad that dad kicked me out, in fact he kicked me out twice. The second time I literally had nowhere to go. I went on Facebook to see if anyone could help. A girl said he had a place if I could pay her the rent. I thought it was her place. Turns out it wasn’t. She spent the rent I paid her on drugs and drink. Cos she wasn’t paying the rent the landlord, who didn’t even know I was there, kicked us out. I was back on the streets again. At first no-one could help me, but because the girl was violent towards me, I was offered a place at a hostel in Bishops Stortford, the YMCA.
I felt safe there, I made friends, the staff were kind. And I wasn’t too far from Harlow where my family lived. You see even though me and dad didn’t always get on he was still my dad.
Now I was only supposed to be at the YMCA for 18months, that’s how long they let you stay. But as 18months got closer I still didn’t have a place to stay. It was then I met Herts Young Homeless for the first time. With the stress and everything, my mental health wasn’t good. They helped me to find a new place to stay. It wasn’t perfect but it was a safe place. Only trouble was, it was in Hertford, Rose Court, which is a long way from Harlow.
By this time I was getting pretty good at understanding how things worked, how I could get priority help. So I kept my head down and did what I was told, this wasn’t always the case. I was a fiery kid and now I was also a fiery adult!
You remember I wanted you to remember how my mum died, breast cancer? Well I got it too. I had to have a major operation, a double mastectomy. This meant that I had to have a place of my own. Because I was in East Herts I got offered a flat in Hertford.
I remember it so well, the day I walked in, a place of my own, at last, but with no furniture, no carpets, nothing. Herts Young Homeless were really supportive, but I felt a long way away from my family and friends. They did come and visit but only when I really needed something. I really wanted to get back to Harlow.
It was December 16th 2019, I was visiting my Auntie, who is a bit of a ‘Medium’, you know someone who can see into the future. She knew I was desperate to move, I’d been on the mutual exchange website looking for someone to swop flats with for months. She suddenly looked at me, and said you are going to get your wish today… I was like, ‘No chance!’ Just in case I went on the website to check, and guess what? I moved back to Harlow, literally the day before lockdown, March 2020. Being stuck in doors I’ve spent my time painting the walls pink.
As for me and my dad, we see each other, go shopping together, get a coffee, chat, try not to argue, but of course we do. But you know what I’m so glad to be back near him and the rest of my family, and to have a place I can call home.
Thank you and stay safe.