Jana's story. Finding a new home during the lockdown.
I grew up with my mum and dad in a 3-bedroomed council property, but after my mum died in 2012 my dad ended up being housed in a one-bedroomed flat. I’d moved out of home only 2 months before, and after that I was constantly moving around, mainly working in care homes, but my health declined as I developed arthritis and fibromyalgia, and by 2017 I wasn’t able to work anymore. I got into debt and eventually had to move out of where I was living.
Initially I moved in with my dad and my two dogs, but his flat was too small for all of us to live in. I was sofa surfing basically, and so I had to leave and asked the council for help. They put me in a hostel in Doncaster. Unfortunately, I had to leave my dogs with my dad. It was really hard to be away from them, and I couldn’t get to see them as much as I wanted to because I couldn’t afford to travel across town all the time.
I found out Crisis were doing courses at the hostel and I did as many as I could. I did an arts and crafts course, ‘cook and eat’ which encouraged me to make my own food in our communal kitchen. I also did the Renting Ready course. This was brilliant. It really helped me with tenancy support, so that I know my rights as a tenant and what my landlord’s responsibilities are. I learned a lot from that. It helped to prepare me for managing my own tenancy.
I also started working with a Smartskills tutor from Crisis on budgeting which I am currently trying to put into practice. When we went into lockdown I was still applying for places. After about a week I got offered this place where I am now. I couldn’t get face to face support any more from Crisis because of social isolation so had to get all my support via phone. I virtually viewed the property and accepted it. I liked the look of it and agreed that I would like to live there.
People from the hostel where I was staying worked closely with my new landlord, and Crisis to arrange for me to move in (the keys were placed in a box outside). Crisis also got me an assistance grant from the local authority to help with large furniture items and this was approved within 2 days. Crisis also cleared my former rent arrears debts to alleviate further poverty and also provided me with a mini oven, bedding (donated from Ikea), furnishings and a sofa. The small items were handed over to me in a socially distant way and the sofa delivered directly. Doncaster council provided me me with white goods, a mattress and bed within 10 days of moving in.
I am really grateful for the support and help I have received as there were so many issues in moving under these difficult circumstances. I can’t thank Crisis enough. It’s so nice to have my dogs back. It’s brilliant to have my own place, I have peace and quiet and it is great. I still have support from Crisis over the phone and email with setting up benefits, checking my bills were set up and budgeting. Their Smartskills tutor Paula is checking in with me and helping me with a spending diary as my income is tight.
Crisis provided a food voucher for the first week I moved in, and a Crisis volunteer is making wellbeing calls to me on a regular basis. This is really helping me because I get depressed and anxious sometimes when I am on my own. When she calls me up it is someone to talk to and it really helps me.
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.