I am an author, storyteller and theatre maker, very lucky to be able to make a modest living doing what I love. Many people I work with do not know that I have myself experienced homelessness several times throughout my life. I hope that by sharing my story and helping others share theirs, we can confront the taboo around homeless women.
I left home very young, leaving my beloved mum and sisters in a house that was too full of traumatic memories for me to be happy there, and moved into a hotel that accepted housing benefits claimants on the seafront in Southsea. My room smelled of old cigarettes and the landlord was a lech, but in this little box room I was happy.
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Shortly afterwards my mum lost her home and her and my sisters moved into one room in a women-only hostel – it was noisy and cramped and didn’t feel safe. My indefatigable mum eventually managed to scrape together enough money to move them all out into a nice house in nearby Cosham. She fought to keep a roof over my sisters’ and her head, whilst I moved from hotel to bedsit to studio flat, with brief spells of homelessness in between all of those.
This was in the days when it was relatively easy to get housing benefit and I was young and responsibility-free enough not to mind where I lived too. Later I made some very bad choices, as a lot of people with my set of experiences tend to do.
I ended up homeless after escaping from an abusive relationship with my drug addict boyfriend. I ended up in a squat in Brixton, then on friends’ sofas , eventually getting a temporary housing association flat in West Ham. A few years later and we were all evicted from the block as it was being “repurposed”, and I was homeless again.