Em was made homeless during the pandemic after returning from living abroad and having nowhere to go. Em moved to Spain and taught English but ended up in many precarious living situations. She eventually came back to England at the beginning of 2019 when her father died but had nowhere to live and was forced to sleep on buses. She couldn’t access benefits because she had been out of the country and failed the habitual residency test.
Arriving at Crisis at Christmas
Fortunately, Em was referred to Crisis’ Christmas centre. “It was amazing to have a bed to sleep in, people around me who were helpful and kind, and to be put in touch with services who could help me.”
After Christmas, the Crisis team made sure she got support with specialist counselling that she says was ‘transformational’ for her mental health.
“After Christmas I was given a Crisis coach who provided me with a huge amount of support. She had previously worked with the NHS and has a really good understanding of the pressures of society that can end up pushing people into homelessness.
“My Crisis coach also advised me on practical issues to do with benefits and housing as well as just being there for me to talk to which has greatly helped my mental health."
Access to support and resources
Em’s Crisis coach spoke to her every week and gave her tips and strategies that she could try out when things became tricky. “My Crisis coach taught me a lot about safeguarding and putting up safe barriers. She gave me a lot of support and resources, I knew I could trust her. She saved my life. She has shown me how to keep the hope alive, keep faith alive.”
“I felt like I had been failed by so many services - I felt utterly judged and let down by my GP. My Crisis coach helped me focus on what is practical and can be done and find strength and skills within me.
“I was blown away by the experience I had with my Crisis coach and I don’t know how I can ever thank Crisis enough. I really can’t overstate how transformational it was.”
Homeless during the pandemic
Just before the pandemic, Em was staying with a friend. Unfortunately, Em ended up having to sleep in a leaking van in the driveway as her friend needed to rent her room as she couldn't work because of Covid and needed to make ends meet.
Em’s Crisis coach contacted the council and made sure she was given emergency accommodation. Afterwards she struggled to find anywhere to live that accepted benefits but eventually found a room to rent in a shared house. It is very expensive and therefore unfortunately she is liable to the benefit cap. At least she is safely off the streets and is learning new skills, looking to work in outreach or teach people how to grow their own food.
“I’m trying to learn skills I’d like to work in outreach with people who are. Ultimately I would like to live in a community again. I would like to teach people how to grow their own food – self-sufficiency but also supporting other people."
Find out more about our Crisis at Christmas campaign and how you can help to change someone's life this year.
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.