World Homeless day gives us the opportunity to reflect on homelessness overall and motivates individuals to contribute and make a real difference, in order to achieve social justice.
As the colder months are approaching, we engaged with people who were made homeless this year to hear their stories.
About eight months ago my precious daughter passed away due to critical illness. It was a very difficult time during that period, especially after my partner leaving me.
I went into depression – consuming alcohol quite often, which led me to losing both my job and my flat. I wasn’t able to cope and began drinking too much.
I put alcohol first; needs second.
I have been homeless for two or three months. I was living in supported accommodation, but my benefits were stopped because I missed an appointment. I didn’t even know I had one. I couldn’t pay my rent and got evicted.
People have robbed and chased me, just disrespected me for no good reason while I’ve been in pain and it’s not fair.
I never think about the future at all. I’m still living in the past, thinking about my girl.
The current system isn’t created for homeless people. Everyone is scared and living in an atmosphere of fear.
I’ve been homeless now for under a year after leaving a domestic violence shelter. I left home because of my violent father and the shelter was really my only choice.
Once the care order finished, I was given just £35 to start a new life. That was it. Once I’d bought food for the week, I had nothing. I walk up and down the high streets looking for anything.
I went to the JobCentre and they basically forced me to sign a job agreement, but what employer is going to take you if you’re on the streets?
I’ve been on the streets for four months now. Some nights I’m lucky enough to sleep on a friend’s couch or in a tent for shelter. I must admit, it’s been horrible. Different people on nights out have urinated on me while I was sleeping in a doorway; all I was doing was trying to keep warm.
However there are some people on the streets who tend to take care of each other. It’s like a small street family really, but I still feel lonely.
Now I’m currently waiting to get into a hostel so I can seek employment after.
I had a lot of financial problems because any money I did get was going on heroin. Eventually I was so broke that I ended up living on the streets. I suffer from bad social anxiety, which means that I was scared to talk to anyone. It’s hard to trust anyone – I’m just too anxious. I couldn’t contact any of the agencies that might have been able to help me, including the benefits agency.
Then one day I began to get very bad stomach pains. I thought it was withdrawal symptoms, so I kept taking more and more. Then one day I just collapsed, with blood coming out my mouth, out my nose – blood everywhere.
I was taken to hospital and they said that I had a stomach ulcer that burst. People in the hospital directed me to social services and the Drug Intervention Team. I attended a few group sessions, but I never really talked to anyone.
Now I still have nobody and I’m struggling on the streets with my addiction.
After my Dad passed away last year, I ended up living in a tower block in London with a friend. I moved in with him, but after a while we fell out and I couldn’t find anywhere else to go. I started traveling and squatting all over the place.
When I was in London I started taking drugs. That really stopped me sorting my life out and finding a place. I was also looking for a job to feed myself.
I ended up being homeless on the streets on and off. I would sleep rough for a few weeks or a month at a time. I served a few months in prison this year for minor crimes, but I would usually end up on the streets again as when I got out I had nowhere to live. Sometimes I think going back is the better option.
Some names have been changed.
By Christopher Haroun