"It’s been a long time since I had a place that I can actually call home."
Maria moved into Your Place in early 2022. Here, she shares her story.
When I first arrived in the UK from Portugal when I was 19 years old, there were plenty of opportunities for me. I worked multiple jobs to rent my own place in Newham, and even completed college courses and started a university degree. Everything was exciting and I wanted to be a part of it. But after about five years, everything started to go downhill.
I found myself with limited work opportunities and not enough pay to cover the rent so I had to stay with my brother for a while. When I came back, I was in the same situation – I had no job, nowhere to live and very little money. I had to move in with a friend, and was sleeping on their couch. It started to get too much and I got involved in too much partying which led to using drugs, and I couldn’t hold on to a job.
I was living here and there and sofa surfing, and spending a lot of time walking around the streets. It was horrible. I always had to carry a bag with my belongings, get to people’s house at a certain time and do the laundry so I have clean clothes for the next of couple days. Sometimes, I wasn’t that lucky to be able to do the washing so had to stay in the same clothes for days. It was unacceptable.
I met someone and things started to settle down and we had a daughter together. But when we split up, the house was repossessed and from there I was literally on the streets. I lost everything, including my daughter. She was just six years old then and I couldn’t support her not knowing where we’d wake up the next day, so she had to move in with her grandmother. It was so hard, but I know she is safe. But the sadness made my problems worse, and the drinking got heavier.
When I was rough sleeping, someone told me about StreetLink and I rang them. It was really a difficult time but I got referred to Your Place. I loved my new home when I moved to Your Place. Roseann, my keyworker, helps me with anything I need. She is extremely supportive and easy to talk to, and doesn’t make me feel conscious about the person I am or what I have experienced. She helps me with the things I struggle with, like paperwork and money, and has helped me with my drinking and mental health too.
During my time here, I have been doing a lot of painting. I find that it really helps me to relax and cope with the stress of everything. I really enjoy it and have a big collection growing now. I’ve been going to the women’s sessions here too, and there’s some crafts coming up soon.
Now, I’m getting ready to move on from Your Place to live independently. It’s been a long time since I had a place that I can actually call home. It’s going to be daunting, but I know I will still have the support from Your Place.