Hannah left home at 14 after problems with her family. She lived with her grandparents for just under a year, and started sofa-surfing with friends when she couldn’t stay with them any longer. At 18 she moved in with her boyfriend and lived with him for a while, until they broke up.
Hannah was working when they broke up, but the job was only part time and did not pay enough for her to afford the bond and deposit, so she was unable to rent a place of her own. She went back to sofa surfing, but after 9 months she ran out of people she could stay with. She had no idea what she was going to do and was in constant fear of what might happen to her. She was diagnosed as suffering from depression and her physical health also suffered as sleeping on sofas was making a back condition worse.
Because she had no fixed address to give her employer, she had to leave her job. She approached the council for support but she was not deemed vulnerable and had no dependents, so she was only entitled to advice on how to look for housing.
With no support from family and no job, Hannah took out a loan to live off, and started getting into debt. She couldn’t understand why no-one wanted to help her.
Hannah was at the Job Centre when she saw a leaflet advertising housing support through The Hinge Centre (SASH’s partner organisation in the East Riding). She described how she felt when she contacted them and was told about Nightstop: “I thought it would be hard because of how difficult everything else had been, but it wasn’t, it was so easy. I felt a big relief. I had been rejected by everyone but Nightstop was like that light at the end of the tunnel.”
Hannah spent two weeks in Nightstop, with a SASH host in Bridlington. She said that she was initially worried about staying with a stranger but felt that she could trust the workers at The Hinge. Hannah described how she felt safe and comfortable with her host: “I was so happy to see a bed, that night I slept like an angel. They made me a hot chocolate and a hot water bottle and I just knew that I was going to be ok”.
Having access to Nightstop gave Hannah the confidence to start making long term plans. During her time using the service, she learnt about the SASH Supported Lodgings scheme and after discussing it with her support workers decided this would be a good option for her. It would give her the chance of some stability, a safe place to stay with day-to-day support so that she could get back on her feet and look at eventually moving into her own place.
“SASH filled the gap for me. It was such a good feeling, having someone to go to for support, knowing that you had a roof over your head and your own bed again.”
When asked whether she would recommend Nightstop to others in a similar situation Hannah said: “Give it a go – take the leap. I understand that it can be hard to trust people but without Nightstop I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’ve started to talk to my Mum again and I’m doing work experience and looking at apprenticeships. I’m a completely different person.”