Jennifer* became homeless when she could no longer afford her rent payments. This is her story…
“In 2011, I was working for a local place in Patchway and my hours got decreased. So I contacted housing benefit and the housing association. Between my contacting housing benefit, the housing association started repossession because housing benefit were taking so long to sort out whether or not they were going to pay me. So I couldn’t afford the rent. The housing association decided on 1st Aug 2011 that I was out and I became homeless.
My first focus was to sort out my son with somewhere to live. Not thinking on that particular night that I had nowhere. You are supposed to be there to look after your kids, and all said and done, I failed. I found somewhere where he could stay. I contacted 1625 Independent People so I went to see them. They gave him a room in a hostel.
I circulated between friends’ houses and B&Bs. With each friend I stayed 2-3 weeks. I had nowhere to go. South Gloucestershire Council said that I was not vulnerable. It’s been awful because I was imposing on my friends. They have children and a life too.
I became aware of Spring of Hope through my support worker. I was here at SOH for 16 months and during that time I was also working. My shifts started at 6am in the morning so to get to work I left at 3am. It’s not easy, you put the brave face on and off you go. It’s not been helped by the fact that there aren’t facilities for people to go to during the day so you wander. And you sit down and someone comes along and says ‘you can’t sit there.’ But why can’t you sit there? You are not doing anything to anybody. And I think that is very prejudiced of people against homeless people. And what do you do when it’s raining? I think the facilities for homeless people in Bristol could be a lot better. With Val’s help I found a room in Patchway where I work. Somebody, somewhere should be providing more facilities for homeless women. Everywhere you look in Bristol, the facilities are male-oriented. And this charity can only take 12 women, five nights a week.
I tend not to dream. I want to be settled somewhere in my own place. In the meantime I am happy where I am. And I am happy that I can come back and help the shelter, because the shelter has helped me. I volunteer and do the housekeeping here.
All the women who have come through Spring of Hope are pointed in the right direction. They are helped on their way to supported accommodation, shared accommodation or their own accommodation. Without Spring of Hope I would have been on the street, and that terrifies me.”
*Not her real name.