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STORIES OF

HOMELESSNESS
INTRODUCTION

This book has been written by a group of


young homeless people in Norwich.

The poetry and prose comes from their


own experiences.

This book describes how it feels to be


homeless and looks at the different ways
someone can become homeless.

If the feelings and situations remind you


of yourself, please look at the Getting
Help guide at the end.
How do you
feel having
nowhere to call
home?
JOMIY’S STORY I wanted to be back with my foster family but I was
violent, aggressive and self-harming on a daily basis.
(23 YEARS OLD) A year later, after intense counselling, numerous sections and
time spent in a secure unit, I seemed to be doing better. I came
When I was 13 I was taken into care. It was meant to last six home and spent a month by the beach in a cottage with support
weeks but it turned out I never came home. I was moved from a workers. But two days before I was due to go home, I overdosed.
local children’s ward to a resource centre to a permanent
children’s home. I found myself in an adult secure unit with no way out of my
behavioural patterns. A year later I was kicked out of this unit
There I started to self-harm as a result of my frustration and for repeatedly attacking staff and residents. My foster
anger. I lashed out because I was under stress and I couldn’t placement had broken down. I spent the next few months in B&Bs
cope with knowing I couldn’t live with my family (even though I and local mental institutions. I married at 18, got a flat, lost the
didn’t actually want to live with them). I hated being away from flat, was charged with arson, kidnap, assault and theft. I
my siblings, who were very young, and the contact I had with my desperately wanted to prove to my family and carers that I
parents was fraught with difficulty. could change.

I was afraid to ask for help and I felt weak asking for help. When a friend committed suicide, I really lost the plot. I started
drinking and hurting myself and others to ease the pain.
Two years later I was permanently excluded from school.
Specialist carers were brought in to look after me until I could go My marriage broke down and I was left with nothing: no money,
back to the children’s home. There my behaviour deteriorated no home and no idea of what to do next.
and I attacked several staff and residents before being removed
by the police. I heard about the Mancroft Advice Project through a friend and
started counselling with them. I wanted to change my life now
Trapped in a police cell, I desperately wanted to change but and was willing to talk about my problems.
couldn’t control my anger. I didn’t feel I could talk about my
problems to a counsellor. Now I still self-harm occasionally, but I’m coping much better.
I have a home and am in touch with my foster family again.
I was sent to another carer before social services found me a
foster family. Although I felt more settled, I kept getting into I want to prove that I’m worthy of being given the chance
trouble with the police. Just before turning 16, I seriously to change.
self-harmed and attempted suicide. I was placed in a mental
health unit. You can do the same.
BEING IN CARE BEING SECURE

It’s hard to share my feeling about being in care, I wish I could take things back,
I’m away from those I hold onto so dear. To not be here,
They’re so far away but in my heart they’re near. Sitting in my room, bars on the windows,
Walls white, cold and bare,
I know my life wasn’t meant to be this way, Nothing to take away my feelings
But I blame myself every single minute of every day. Being afraid and scared.
Miles away from home I feel so down and alone,
I hate being here. I’d rather be back in that abusive home. I don’t hurt myself to hurt you,
I do it because sometimes I feel
Why is my life like this? It isn’t fair, Dead inside. I do it to feel
And no one around me seems to care. Alive.
My life is a mess and it’s me I detest.
The pain in my heart you will never know, I feel so sad seeing the look of helplessness on your faces,
It’s so deep I cry myself to sleep, You look at me and I look right through you.
I guess things are meant to be so wrong
So for now I’ll try and be strong. I see the look of desperation on all your faces
Because deep down I know all of you care.

by Jomiy by Jomiy
At this point my mother came back into my life and,
HOLLY’S STORY because she seemed supportive, I moved back in
with her. I soon discovered that her drinking had not
(24 YEARS OLD) stopped, nor had the abuse. She kicked me out again
and I ended up on the streets of Norwich.
I had an unsettled childhood. My parents split after my
mother had an affair. I stayed with my mother, who The Council had declared me intentionally homeless, so
was an alcholic and had many partners. Before I was I ended up crashing with a few friends and then back on
16 I had moved home 12 times. the streets. Eventually a Housing Officer at the Council
heard my story and put me in emergency
After years of physical and mental abuse from my accommodation in Norwich. Since then I have received a
mother and sexual abuse from her partners, I was two-year tenancy in a nearby hostel.
taken away by social services. I found it hard to
socialise and trust people. I couldn’t understand what The staff at the hostel are incredibly supportive and I
I had done to deserve such treatment from my mother, continue to go to the Mancroft Advice Project
as I had never been in trouble with the police and had for counselling.
always been academically brilliant.
At the time of writing I am starting a Prince’s Trust
I moved in with a boyfriend, who became abusive. Team twelve-week course to gain a Level 2 qualification
One evening, a brawl between us finished with him in literacy and numeracy. I am also starting a
destroying all my clothes and throwing alcohol in my City & Guilds qualification and a v50 award for 50 hours
eye. I left the following day, after five years as a victim of volunteer work in the community.
of domestic violence.
I plan to start a BA in Social Work next year. And
I went to live with a friend, who soon became a hopefully I’ll soon be able to move into my own flat!
partner. However he suffered from Asperger’s
Syndrome and the relationship became difficult. When While I regret not accessing certain services earlier,
he threatened to stab me I knew I had to leave. The I’m thankful that I’ve been able to access them and get
local council wouldn’t help me and Women’s Aid were to where I am now. My life has more purpose and
only able to house me for two nights in a refuge. direction now and I want to use my experiences to help
other people turn their lives around.
I’ve no protection from the rain
Lightening, wind or thunder.
No carpets ever meet my feet,
The stars I’m always under.

I walk the city streets by night,


Sometimes people stare.
I feel they know I’m on my way
To that place called Nowhere.

by Michael Richardson
A Few Words Hard Times
I’m not being ungrateful. It’s hard when you can’t express how you feel
When all you see and feel is anger and rage
I don’t want you to think I’m throwing all the hard work When you don’t want to live another minute another day.
right back in your face. When you’re so mad you smash things up
You don’t care because you’re feeling such anger, such loss.
I’m being difficult so you can see how much
I’m hurting inside. I see the pain in all your eyes

I run away from you all because I’m afraid of doing well. You know I won’t fail but you know I’m on the wrong road
One where there’s no ticket to return.
I’m afraid that when I start to do well people will It’s not that I’m trying to come across as an animal,
leave me again. I just feel so helpless, so sad, so lost
I’ve got no real friends around me
But I also know you’ll send me away for being crazy again. Staff just get paid to say they care.

I get afraid sometimes, scared of the past, the present My life feels so meaningless and empty that I want to die
or the future. So I run off and burn and OD and cut.
I don’t do it for attention, can’t you see?
I just want you to tell me now and again that things will be I do it because I hate my life
okay and reassure me you’ll try not to send me away again. Because it’s hard being happy, you see?

I’m trying really hard now, I want you to see Things go well and then they’re bad
I know I’m difficult, but I’m still the little girl I once was:
I’m trying to be happy just being me. Angry confused sad and hurt.

by Jomiy by Jomiy
MANDY’S STORY

I was homeless for three years in


Norwich, but have since found a room in
a hostel.

I left home because I was a victim of


domestic violence.

Once homeless, I got into drugs and


found it hard to find a way out of the
world I had got myself into.

I was roped into the wrong crowd and


ended up in and out of prison because I
was begging in the streets for money to
feed my drug addiction.

Now I am getting clean and making new


mates who don’t do drugs or drink.
The Last We ek
L ove And V iol e nc e
O f My Life
Another slap or even a punch or a kick
What you were doing makes me feel sick.
Monday you kicked me just for fun
But then there were times when you were so good
When I lay content in your arms the way I should. Tuesday you called me brainless and dumb

I had your baby; you know I could have said no Wednesday you dragged me around by my hair
But it was the ultimate way to show
How much I loved you, a love that was true Thursday you shouted you just did not care
I thought the world of you.

Now I am in prison and can just about handle the pain Friday you beat me to within an inch of my life
You’ll never be able to hurt me again.
I hid the bruises and black and blue eyes Saturday you asked me to be your wife
There were times with you when I wanted to die.
Sunday I left you with a smile on my face
Now I have two boys and they’re my whole life
If circumstances were different
I could have been your wife.
I’d discovered my strength and felt no disgrace.
But instead I’m with him.

The bruises are gone but you pushed me too far


One punch too many, that’s the type of person you are.

by Mandy submitted by Mandy


Twenty years together, two beautiful children.
House, job, cars, family, friends, good social life - DRINK
Pressure, long hours, stress, no quality time together, increasing anxiety -
DRINK
Communication breakdown, drifting apart, anything in common?
Children and debt - DRINK
Workload mounts, meltdown - DRINK
Lose driving licence - DRINK
Lose job - DRINK
Visit frail mother - DRINK
Return home to my family, locks are changed, stay in a B & B - DRINK
No money, court action, move out - DRINK
Stay with friends - DRINK
Friends got no room - DRINK
Can’t see children - DRINK
Sweating, shaking, confusion - DRINK
Find shelter - DRINK
Cold, wet, hungry - DRINK, ALWAYS DRINK - My only constant
Paranoid, desperate, weak - DRINK, MUST GET DRINK
Asleep in churchyard dreaming of DRINK

Weeks go by, a chance meeting, advice, friendship, a meal, a bed, support,


a roof, belief.
Selfworth, dignity, “Daddy, please stop drinking”.
A wake-up call, days, weeks without drinking, scary.
Appetite returns, sleep returns, clarity.
Children come first.
I can, I must fight my demons without the demon:
DRINK

by Adie
Attention Seeking

I'm needing attention


I know I'm needing attention
Because I hear people say it,
People who know these things.
So I will mess up my room,
Throw all my clothes on the floor
And punch the wall
And lay a trap above the door.

This is the kind of thing I do when I’m


Needing attention
But I’m never boring,
I always think of new things.
Attention has lots of colours and tunes
And lots of punishments.

A few weeks ago someone


Who knows me well said
I just needed someone to listen?

She was right!

by Jomiy
When I was 15 I moved out. I became
heavily into drugs and I ended up
squatting in different places with
different people.

It was very chaotic.

HAZEL’S When I was 18 I met Damon. He helped


me sort my life out. I got off drugs
STORY and moved out of the squat and into a
youth hostel.

Now I have a flat.

I’m just waiting for it to be ready to


move into. Damon and I are having our
first baby, Willow.

Even when you hit rock bottom, life can


always get better.
GETTING HELP IN NORWICH
Archway 01603 616950
The Ark 01603 663496
Bishopbridge House 01603 666563
Breckland Council 01603 656870
Broadland District Council 01603 431133
CAPS Team 01603 666563
Children’s Services 08448 008014
City Hall 03449 803333
Hinde House 01603 625982
Housing Benefit 034498 03333
Housing Needs (City Council) 01603 212843
Julian Housing 01603 767718
Leeway 08452 412171
Mancroft Advice Project (MAP) 01603 766994
Matthew Project (Helpline) 01603 764754
Nightshelter 01603 666563
Norfolk County Council 08448 008020
North Norfolk District Council 01263 513811
Norwich City Council 03449 803333
Riply Project 01603 764281
Shelter Housing Aid Centre 01603 667740
St Ed’s (Ed’s Basement) 01603 622035
St Martin’s Housing Trust 01603 765667
South Norfolk District Council 01508 533633
Umbrella Housing 01603 618527
Wherry Housing Association 01603 703500
Fixers from YMCA Norwich YMCA (Central) 01603 877950
FINAL THOUGHTS

Never take having a home for granted

Don’t ever be ashamed of asking for help

Accept any housing support that is offered to you

Remember people’s kindness when things are tough

“Your story can have a happy ending”


Jomiy
Jomiy would like to thank the
Mancroft Advice Project and her
Youth Worker Julie Webber
for all their support.

Names have been changed to protect individuals.

This book represents the views and opinions of the


young people who contributed content. The Pub-
lic Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT) and ITV Fixers
do not accept liability for how this publication is
used or interpreted and we strongly recommend
that appropriate advice be sought before using
these materials with groups or individuals.

ITV Fixers is a project of the Public Service Broadcasting Trust, charity 298643, company 2194957