I've been homeless. I know just how important the Homelessness Reduction Bill is.
27.04.2017 635 XX
“The summer of 2015, I became homeless. It was like an earthquake. I knew I had to survive, I had to keep warm, and I had to stay focused.
I arrived at the council from Heathrow airport Terminal 2, where I slept from time to time. I took my ticket and waited in line. I thought we would work together to try and find a solution, as I was on the housing list and had points. They asked me in a robotic fashion: Are you on drugs? Are you dependent on alcohol? Do you have mental health problems? No, was my answer
No, was their answer too…I was stunned. According to the law I should be turned away.
From there I went up the high street and visited a few private housing agencies. I thought I could rent a studio or a bedroom flat, but I was told I needed to be earning over £30,000 a year to even be considered. I was on a zero-hours contract so that wasn’t possible.
I slept on buses, tubes and in hospital waiting rooms. Once I slept in a park with a friend, but I was afraid of the foxes.
I lost my independence and my night shifts. I was told I couldn't work the night shifts whilst in a night shelter.
But it all could have been very different. If I hadn't been turned away, I would have been able to sort out the rubble in the earthquake of my life. It would have helped me emotionally and physically from day one. I would have had a base, space to think. I would have had my own freedom to cook for myself, do my own washing and go to bed when I wanted to. And most importantly I would have been able to access the services I needed at the time.
That’s why I’ve been campaigning to help Crisis get the Homelessness Reduction Bill through parliament.
I am an ambassador for Crisis and sometimes we get emails inviting us to take part in events. I put my name down for a trip to parliament for the launch of the “No One Turned Away Campaign” which would eventually lead to the Homelessness Reduction Bill. I went, even though I was still homeless.
I got washed and dressed in the toilets of Terminal 2 - I put on a suit that I had been given by one of the night shelters. I went straight to the breakfast launch and I listened to the speeches, and at the end when people were mingling, I approached Marcus Jones, the minister of homelessness.
I wanted him to be aware that there was a current homeless person in the meeting, and I wanted him to know where I had slept the night before. He was shocked. I think he, like many people, had an imageof a homeless person who is begging, not clean and dependent on substances. Not someone like me who was well presented and working.
I wrote a letter to my MP, Jeremy Corbyn, with the help of Crisis. I told him the system wasn’t helping people.
Crisis has helped and is helping homeless people to have a voice.
I hope the bill will be put into practice successfully, because I know it will make a difference to many people's lives.
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