“My mam died when I was two. My grandparents brought me up, but they were both alcohol-dependent, because of the grief, so it was quite difficult. I went to sixth form because I wanted to join the army, but when my nanna died, I had to quit school because my grandad wasn’t earning any money. After my grandparents died, my head was an absolute mess.
I got into a toxic relationship and when we split up, I had nowhere to go and was homeless. I tried to take my own life, but the police found me. I sofa surfed for about a year and a half before having no option other than sleeping rough.
“The first three nights were scary. I would go up and down in the lift in a block of flats. I would sit under a bridge. I would hide. I was always walking.
Then one of my friends got me an appointment with Crisis, who gave me a phone. My coach, Jemma called me straight away. I gave her my life story. She called me back the same day and she said she’d booked me into a hotel for a couple of nights. I couldn’t believe it.
“I was getting support from Crisis and speaking to Jemma nearly every day. Steph the psychologist gave me techniques that really helped with my anxiety.
“I also did some sports and art workshops and Jemma got me vouchers for food. She was like a guardian angel. I didn’t have anyone else I could trust. I felt like I could rely on her, she did everything she said she would.
“Jemma helped me with bidding for council homes, and after two months, I moved into my flat, which is nice. It’s by the beach, 30 minutes. I didn’t have any money. I didn’t have a bed. But Jemma helped me to set up everything, from curtains to a kettle.
“I wanted to volunteer – she helped me with that too. I volunteered as a health advocate for Health Now which I loved, helping people go to appointments. Then I got a job at Crisis, where I’m a Peer Support Worker for Housing First. I can be helping people with their Universal Credit claim, taking them to health appointments, or encouraging them to try something new, like going to the beach on the Metro or getting a haircut.
“Now I have got everything for my flat. My aim for next year is to learn how to drive. My coach Jemma was a good role model for me to have. I never really had a good one growing up. I bet everyone looks up to her. I couldn’t have done any of this without her!”