Dana's story. 'I’ve been on the street for three weeks because the Job Centre sanctioned me for not turning up to a meeting I didn’t know about.'
“I’ve been on the street for three weeks because the Job Centre sanctioned me for not turning up to a meeting I didn’t know about. I’d been living in a hostel for five months but my benefits weren't enough to pay the rent so I was already in debt. When the money stopped they just kicked me out.
I’m twenty-two now but I’ve been homeless since I was sixteen. There was so much fighting and arguments between my mum and dad I had to get out. I wanted to live my own life away from all that. They know where I am but they don’t really care. The hostel was actually better.
I didn’t really know where to turn for help at the start. I was sofa surfing at friend’s houses or living in a tent, but the YMCA and St Mungo’s rough sleepers team helped me a bit. They took me to the council to get on the housing list but it still took nine and a half months to get into a hostel.
It’s really hard on the street. People turn their nose up at you or they just walk past and ignore you. They don’t really acknowledge you or ask you why you’re homeless.
Sometimes the council will come and put a notice on your tent saying you need to pack up and go, or the police will come and wake you up at seven in the morning to move you on, but I don’t know where they expect you to go? Some of the churches will let you in but only if you don’t have a criminal record.
The police don’t like us asking for money either, but it’s the only way we’ve got to survive. Then we end up getting put in custody for twenty-four hours for begging and they can fine you up to £1000. If you haven’t got the money you have to go to court and the judge decides whether to send you to prison or not. I’ve known a lot of people they’ve done that too. It’s disgusting. Being treated like scum because you’re homeless. I don’t know why the police have to be so horrible about it.
I can get benefits again in a week so hopefully I'll get back into the hostel. I’d like to get a cleaning job or get into hairdressing one day, but once you’re homeless it’s really hard to apply for anything. I was trying to find work before this but they didn’t give me much help at the Job Centre. You’re just supposed to go out and find it yourself, but when you’re homeless you get ill and you can’t have a proper wash. It gets you down and makes you really depressed. If I can get a home it’ll be much easier to get a job.”
By sharing stories we can change attitudes and build a movement for permanent, positive change. Stand against homelessness and help us end it for good.