Jordan's story. 'In the B&Bs you’ve got no life.'

“I was living in a nice one-bed flat for £400 a month last year, but the landlord said he wanted it back for his daughter and kicked me out. I think he just wanted more rent money for it though, because after I left I saw the same flat advertised for £700. The prices of flats in Edinburgh have gone through the roof in the last couple of years, and it’s just too expensive for lots of people now. I was working but I still couldn’t afford it on my wages, so I had to move back into my mum’s house.

There was already my mum, my gran, and my sister living there though, and there wasn’t enough room for me too. I had my dog with me, and all my stuff from my flat was stored there in boxes. My mum also had mental health problems, plus my gran was eighty-three, and my sister issues with drugs and drink, so I knew I couldn’t stay for long, and in the end, I only stayed there for about a month before my mum kicked me out. After that I sofa-surfed with different friends for a while, then I had to declare myself homeless with the council. They told me I qualified for help, but that the waiting list for social housing is at least eighteen months, and that’s when they put me into my first B&B. 

It was like the movie Trainspotting in there. Everyone seemed to be a drug addict. There was thick black mould across the ceiling, coming down the walls and in the cupboards. It didn’t even have any curtains. You had to share a toilet and a shower, and it was never cleaned properly. The breakfast they give you in the morning I wouldn’t even feed it to my dog, it was that bad. The sausage was even a sausage. I don’t know what it was. It was like jail food, but you can’t make anything yourself because there was no fridge, no cooker not even a microwave, so you just end up eating chips all the time or hoping you can go to a friend’s house for tea. The people were like matchsticks, they were just wasting away. There was also a door connecting my room to the one next to it, and the walls are paper thin, so you could hear everything that’s happening next door. You never get any privacy. It was horrible.

I got moved into a different one after complaining for a month, and that was a bit better, but it was still thirty men in one house, all with the same issues. In the B&Bs you’ve got no life. You have to be in by 10pm every night, and if you’re not back in time they lock the doors and leave you out on the street. You can’t do anything, like going to the cinema or something simple like that. It’s like you’re stranded there by yourself, just climbing the walls. 

After about a month there I had to go away for a few days because my dad died in Tenerife, where he was living there with his new wife. I told them I had to go for the funeral before I went, but when I got back they kicked me out. I was only away for three days but they just said it wasn’t allowed. The guy who ran the place even claimed he didn’t have my stuff there anymore. He said he didn’t know where it was. I complained to the council, but they just said it was up to the owner of the B&B.    

Then literally the following morning, my mum committed suicide. My dad died on the 25th November 2017, I was kicked out the B&B on the 30th, and my mum died on the 1st. My parents had divorced when I was a kid because my dad had left her for another woman, and afterwards she ended up in the mental health ward. Her brother had also died just before that happened, so she was already in grief, and I don’t think she ever really recovered from the stress. 

After she died I went back home to look after my gran, but my uncle has been trying to sell the house ever since the funeral. He was made executor of the estate when she was sick, and so me, my grandma and my sister have no security there. He wants to put my gran into a home, but she doesn’t want to move. She’s happy there, she knows all the neighbours and has her own space, but I don’t think we’ll have any choice, so I’m still trying to bid on council houses. The system is so difficult though. You know you won’t get a house for at least a year and a half, but you have to bid every week to build up enough points. There’s lots of flats getting built around the city, but they’re all luxury flats or student accommodation. There’s no council houses being built anywhere, but they’re still paying a fortune for people to stay in B&Bs.

Before my mum and dad died, I was trying to start my own business, but since then it’s been too much to take. Hopefully in a few month’s time I can get that going again, but my heads not in the right place at the moment. I was drinking too much to deal with the stress at one point, but thankfully having my dog has helped me stop that now. My dad actually ended up dying of drink. His liver failed, and I don’t want that to happen to me. When I was in the B&B I had to leave my dog at my mum’s house, but I would still go back every day to walk and feed him. I always feel like I get a new lease of life going out walking with him in the country. I think he’s the only thing that’s been keeping me sane.” 

Jordan, Edinburgh. 

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