I want to share my story with you, because there are more people like me who aren’t so lucky.
For over 2 years, I was sleeping rough, or staying in bed and breakfasts, trying to get somewhere more permanent. When I finally got keys to my own flat, I thought my problems would be over, but I was dead wrong.
It was lonely and overwhelming. I’d spent months in survival mode, waiting, only to find I was still entirely alone with no one to speak to. No furniture or help to figure out how to set up a home.
When all this talk came about increasing bills, I started to really panic. I could barely afford to get through each week, never mind trying to find more money for heating.
The little bit of cash I’d been saving for a second-hand couch disappeared fast. My weekly food bills were going up, but my cupboards were getting emptier. I stopped showering because my meter kept running out. I was scared they’d turn it off for good and I wouldn’t have a light at night, or any way to charge my phone and keep in touch with the few people I knew.
I was close to giving up. Life in B&Bs started to seem more manageable, even if it felt like going backwards.
Then a friend put me in touch with Cyrenians.
I was sceptical at first – I thought they’d think I was daft for struggling when I had a roof over my head. They asked me what I wanted help with. It was the first time I’d ever been given that kind of control.
At first I just wanted to know I could eat every day, so they showed me my local food pantry where I could stock my cupboards with food I actually liked. Then they topped up my electricity and gas so I wasn’t in arrears anymore - I was finally able to put credit on and not see most of it get swallowed up straight away. I didn't realise how stressed seeing that had made me, it was such a relief not to have to worry anymore.
They even got me a couch so I have somewhere other than my bed to sit and relax.
I started feeling a little like I was getting back on my feet, and I told them how lonely I'd been feeling. I felt embarrassed at first, but I shouldn't have worried. They’ve connected me to other people who have struggled like me, who know what I’m going through. We meet at the lunch club, get a hot meal and also some good chat. It's the highlight of my week.
I know that times are still tough for lots of us, but with Cyrenians backing me I don’t feel like I’m failing anymore. Life is a little more hopeful.