"Some nights it was just too cold, so I would get on the night bus which goes all the way to Oxford Street – I could never sleep on them, but you have to do what you can to stay warm. I spent a whole year without a safe place to call home."
For a long time, I was I renting a two-bedroom flat in East Ham with a friend, and we were earning just enough to get by. Unfortunately, our landlord with very little notice decided to kick us out. We were offered a new flat by the council and we moved there. But, as time went on, my friend started to see someone, and then she moved in. Once they got married, I was asked to move out.
I continued working in temporary jobs, in kitchens and on construction sites, but this was only just enough money to get by living by myself. The temporary jobs then started to dry up and I ended up sleeping on people’s sofas when I could, but I didn’t have many people to ask, and I have no family.
I had no choice but to sleep rough in any shelters that I could find and sometimes even in shop doorways. Some nights it was just too cold, so I would get on the night bus which goes all the way to Oxford Street – I could never sleep on them, but you have to do what you can to stay warm. I spent a whole year without a safe place to call home.
Eventually, I was referred to Caritas Anchor House by the council. The first day I arrived here felt like I was back home. I got such a warm feeling. It was great to be finally in a place where I felt safe and socialise with people, which helped overcome the loneliness which I’d experienced sleeping on the streets and night buses.
It was great to meet weekly with my keyworker Elif, who was always there to help me during the week and such a great listener. I was suffering with PTSD and the team linked me up with a therapist and a local PTSD peer support group just down the road. It really helped having that one-to-one support with a professional and to speak to other people that were going through the same struggle as me. The peer support classes were a great escape and gave me chance to make new friends as we’d do art activities like cross-stitch and tie dying.
Caritas Anchor House helped me move into a flat of my own in Newham. I moved in 10 days before Christmas, which was a fantastic early present. The first day living by myself took some getting used to, but I know quite a few people in the area from my peer support group. It’s great to have my own space with a bit of privacy. Everything is coming to together now; I’ve just finished fitting in the carpet and just waiting on a couple of things to arrive like my TV.
I am still keeping my art going, and now attend a local art class. We were recently tasked with painting the welcome sign for a new community café opening in Stratford called The Together Café. I love losing myself in it whilst I am drawing and painting. The classes have really helped my mental health, it gives me something to look forward to every week and I love seeing the improvements in my work each week. I am hoping to get some of my drawings hung up on the wall in my new flat soon.