Laura studied Fine Art at university, but when her mum died, she used alcohol to escape her grief.
Homeless for months and unable to get support, she got into a very dark place. But thanks to a Changing Lives grant from Crisis, she’s now a self-employed illustrator and full of hope.
“My mum was my best friend and I was devastated when she died. If you can’t get help for mental health problems, you find other ways to escape what’s going on inside you. I became addicted to alcohol and went to a really bad place.
“I was homeless for months, staying on people’s sofas, which made me feel incredibly anxious. With no support to help me, there was a lot of worry about what the next day would bring.”
When Laura went into rehab, she finally received the counselling she needed to help with her anxiety, depression and grief. She moved into a dry house for women and started doing Crisis courses.
“I picked up a pencil and drew a field and a fence, and doing that simple task was so powerful. It was such a big moment because I felt my brain come back! It was magical. Art helped me express myself.
“Coming to Crisis was the best thing that could have happened. I’ve done courses on everything from mental health to finances, while also having art mentoring, I’m like a sponge with the experts’ advice.
“My coaches have been incredible, providing one-to-one support with everything from universal credit, to finding a flat just before the start of the pandemic.
“My home is in a peaceful rural area, so I can create from here. It’s safe, a base camp, which you really need when you’ve had a journey like mine.
“My coaches also helped me secure a Crisis Changing Lives grant so I could get started as an illustrator. I did a pitch to a panel of experts, and got funding for a laptop, a mobile phone, a desk, art materials. I get vouchers in instalments so I can buy the materials I need as I go along.
“I love capturing nature, buildings, people and animals and I’ve started selling originals and prints, creating gift cards and doing commissions too.
“The Crisis coaches have been angels. They were so kind and supportive, right from my recovery to becoming self-employed. I’ve fi nished all my 121s with Crisis, which were superb. I’m getting my art out there, it’s me versus the world now, eek!
“I know Crisis will always be there for me. I’ve gone back to the old Laura that I used to be, the sporty one, the healthy one. It’s a beautiful feeling and I’ve got so much hope for the future.”
You can follow Laura on social media and check out her art:
You can buy Laura’s art by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Crisis and Impact Hub King’s Cross have joined forces to create a programme that supports people experiencing homelessness to launch a business.
Next Steps offers funding for potential businesses, plus workshops and mentoring to help them succeed. Here, Samira and Lloyd talk a little more about the exciting programme.
Here Ali explains how artistic expression at his local Skylight in London has helped give him a voice.
“What has been your involvement in Crisis’ arts programme?
I became homeless after I lost my flat – I couldn’t keep up with the rent increases. I was feeling very low and came to Crisis. I was amazed they were able to find me temporary accommodation while I looked for a home. I was feeling broken, but attending art classes helps me express myself and gives me a voice.
What has been your inspiration for artwork?
The painting was inspired by a visit to the National Galley. I had just moved into my temporary place and I was feeling more optimistic.
Tell us more about your piece, and the techniques you used to create it.
It is painted in acrylic and I painted a very soft base and built up the texture and colours with brushes and used a plastic palette knife to build more texture. I used orange and reds to show hot colours to represent the optimism I experienced.
What have you enjoyed most about the arts programme?
I really enjoy the visits to the art galleries, where I learned to appreciate different types of art. I had a career in the Persepolis Museum in Iran and I’ve volunteered in museums here and led Crisis tours in the Royal Academy of Arts. If I could get some work in a museum or a gallery it would be my dream."
Through our arts programmes, people like Ali can discover a new joy and purpose in creativity, boosting their resilience and self-confidence. We also offer our members classes in everything from photography and poetry, to acting and music.
For just £8 a month, you can subscribe to Art from Crisis and own a new, exclusive and inspiring work of art every month. Your subscription will help end homelessness, so one day everybody will have a safe, stable place to call home.
Find out more about Art in Crisis and...
Since the pandemic began, we’ve never had a better understanding of the value of home – and why having somewhere safe and secure to live should be available to all.
Length: 2 minute read (517 words)
This past year has demonstrated to us all that ending homelessness is not only possible, but something we can make happen if we act now.
Extraordinary efforts from individual, governments and charities have provided emergency housing for over 33,000 individuals across Great Britain and ensured that people wouldn't loose their homes this winter, when temperatures plummeted and coronavirus cases again began to rise.
But we know that right now across Britain hundreds of thousands of people are still experiencing the worst forms of homelessness, either sleeping on our streets, sofa surfing far away from their family and friends or spending months or even years stuck in unsuitable accomadation like B&Bs.
How Crisis is helping during the pandemic and beyond
During the pandemic and beyond, we’re supporting people who are homeless, lonely and isolated. We’re helping people to find safe, self-contained accommodation where they can shelter from the virus and then supporting them to find a stable and permanent home. This is the foundation we all need to be able to thrive.
We've recruited Rapid Resettlement workers across several Crisis Skylight centres to help secure accommodation quickly for people who are experiencing the worst forms of homelessness.
We've recruited new Housing Procurement officer posts in Newcastle, West Midlands, Merseyside and South Yorkshire (other Skylights TBC) to help build relationships with local landlords and acquire more affordable permanent accommodation for our members to move into.
We are seeing more people under extreme pressure and facing homelessness after losing their job during the pandemic. So we’re helping people find work, with specialist teams who connect people with employers, helping with CVs and interview skills, and providing a whole range of virtual training courses and classes. We've introduced a new benefits advice service team, improving Crisis’ capacity to support people to access the welfare benefits and financial support to which they are entitled.
And we’re working side by side with people experiencing interlocking problems such as mental health, drug and alcohol dependency and trauma. With somewhere permanent to live and tailored, unconditional support, people have a much stronger chance of rebuilding a life away from homelessness.
We’re also working with governments across Britain to ensure policies are in place to support people who are homeless now to find safe, secure homes and stay housed once the pandemic is over; and to prevent more people becoming homeless because of the outbreak.
As an independent charity, our work is only possible because of your support. Your dedication to ensuring everyone in Great Britain has a safe and stable place to live inspires us to work harder every day.
As more people face the prospect of losing their home, your support will help us continue to be there, side by side with people, every step of the way. Until everyone in our society has a place they can call home.
Thank you to each and every one of our supporters who have provided vital funds to enable us to end homelessness once and for all.