James become homeless last year when unexpected redundancy left him unable to pay his rent. Now, he is living in his own home and has secured his dream job. Here, James shares his story.
I was working in the media sector when I was made redundant, and around the same time, I lost my father who I was extremely close to.
I thought I’d bounce back and get a new job quickly, but days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. I fell into rental arrears and was evicted, and was homeless for two years.
I had never been homeless and came from a middle class family, and so I felt a deep sense of shame and isolated myself. I realised how easily homelessness can happen to anyone.
I slept on the streets and on night buses, but it wasn’t safe – I even witnessed a young homeless man be killed. I knew I needed to get out of this situation. I took on temporary jobs where I could, but I couldn’t make enough money for a deposit or rent.
I would look in awe at all the new apartments being built around me, and although the area was my home, I felt completely alienated from it.
I was finally referred to Your Place and moved in in June 2019. They gave me what I had been missing all along: community.
The support that was available, and the opportunities to take part in activities were essential for me. My support worker set regular times for us to catch up and encouraged me to get involved in what was happening around the building. I could use my time in a meaningful way while building confidence, rapport and new skills and they helped me to readjust and prepare to get back into work. I got involved in projects where I had responsibility and accountability, and even simple things, like having to turn up on time.
I participated in the community cooking workshops and became involved with Your Place’s housing project with Citizens UK. This inspired me to engage in what was happening in my local neighbourhood. I was having my voice heard on issues that directly affected myself and local residents, such as rocketing rents and the lack of affordable housing options. I began to feel empowered and a part of the borough in which I live.
I know that all of these things have had a direct correlation with my success now. I’ve got a new job and have been living in my new home since November 2019. One of the biggest barriers for many people is saving enough money for your deposit and first months’ rent, but Your Place removed that barrier and made moving on possible.
My lived experience of homelessness and my time at Your Place really helped me to secure my dream role with the local authority, supporting people experiencing and at risk of homelessness into accommodation, and providing a wrap-around service with access to mental health and wellbeing support too. Through my own experiences and how I saw those around me be supported, I feel confident in my ability to help others in a similar situation.
I’m so grateful to Your Place for providing me with the welcoming space, structure, personal and professional support that I needed to get back in touch with who I really am and to remember that – homelessness is a condition and not an identity.
– James, former resident of Your Place