"Crisis have been like family to me": Anna's story
Our former member Anna reflects on her experience of homelessness, and why we have to do more to prevent it from happening in the first place
I will never forget the feeling of going to the council for homelessness support. It was raining and I had my son and daughter with me, but it was a bank holiday and they were closed.
My daughter kept asking what we were going to do, but we had nowhere to go. I had spent all our money on the travel and on food for the day. If a friend hadn’t taken us into their home for the night I don’t know what we would have done.
For the first two weeks after I went to the council we were living in a Travelodge outside Edinburgh. It was off the side of an ‘A’ road and the only nearby shop for food or anything was the petrol station. I was in a bad situation money-wise, and I didn’t know what support was available. I was starting from scratch.
I’ve been working with Crisis since 2018, after I heard about the charity from the Job Centre. I was staying in a hotel at the time. The Job Centre had noticed I had a parent account, to get support, but the money was going to my ex-partner. He had been violent and I was not in contact with him – I had left with the children – but I wasn’t receiving any of the money. There was me, my son, who was three, and my daughter, who was nine. The three of us shared a room.
When I got in touch with Crisis I got a lead worker, called Julie, and any time I had a problem I would call her. She helped me find temporary accommodation – because I had been in the hotel for five weeks. She pushed and pushed and then I got temporary accommodation.
But the council kept moving us. We would stay in one place for one night, then somewhere else for two nights, but eventually they got us a place near Ferry Road [in Edinburgh] where we could wait for something more permanent. It was a B&B, with toast and boiled eggs for breakfast.
We had to be back by 10pm every night, and they didn’t like us having family or friends round to visit. There was no kitchen, but we could get food from the supermarket. We couldn’t afford takeaway anyway, but the kids wanted home-cooked food.
My son was too young to understand, but my daughter was my greatest support. She acted like a mature wee lady, and she still is.
After five weeks of Julie fighting for something better we got somewhere near Craigentinny. After that I was bidding for more than two and a half years on places [through the local authority application process], but we got nowhere. I was feeling pretty hopeless, to be honest. The temporary accommodation we had been put in didn’t feel like my house, which is really important to me. If something broke they would always get the cheapest replacement, even my son noticed that.
My kids were sharing a room that whole time – there was just enough space in the room for a bunkbed. It was especially hard for my daughter, she needed space and also she wanted to decorate the room. It was a nightmare for them.
In my view you shouldn’t have to spend that long in temporary accommodation, it’s not healthy. My ex had been hassling us, we were on the ground floor and it didn’t feel safe.
Things are much better now though. We all have our own space, and if I need something I can choose something I like.
In the end we went to Glasgow, though it took time to find a place that didn’t need a guarantor. Crisis helped me get a deposit and a first month’s rent, which allowed me to get the flat. It was Jakub [one of the Edinburgh Skylight’s progression coaches] who helped me do that. He was great – the deposit had been a big issue for me.
Over the last few years Crisis has become family to me, honestly. I feel like all the staff are family now. They really helped me a lot – physically, emotionally, financially. When Crisis couldn’t get me cash they got me food vouchers. They gave me Christmas presents – the kids loved that – but they also helped me emotionally. It made me so happy to know they were there, and they were helping. Even just to hear that. I really appreciate them.
The kids love the new house. They each have a room, and they aren’t fighting anymore, or messing around with each other’s stuff. They have new schools, and we are starting to settle into the area. They both have friends in the area.
Crisis have been like family to me. I don’t have any other words to describe them. I always tell them they are family to me now. If I ever have the ability then I would like to work to help people who were in my situation.
When I think about the day I had to go to the council, it makes me think there should be more urgent support for people in that situation. It’s very important for a person to feel like they have a place to live. To feel like you have a house. To not have that, it’s a terrible feeling. It kills you emotionally, and it takes away your power. You are nowhere in that situation. You don’t know where to start, and you can’t work towards other things, if you don’t have somewhere to live. I’ll always support Crisis.
Crisis supports new proposals to strengthen homelessness prevention in Scotland. You can learn more about our work to prevent homelessness here
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