“I wasn’t safe at home and I couldn’t be myself.”

Jason left home when he just 16 following a difficult relationship with his mum and years of physical, homophobic and transphobic abuse from his brother.

When Jason first left home, he would stay with friends and sofa surf and at one point had his own flat paid for by his family. However, this turned out not to be sustainable and once again Jason found himself with nowhere to go.

Jason’s first experience with SASH was a short one, spending a few nights in Nightstop before finding a place to stay with his friend’s family. Very sadly, Jason’s friend died recently in a tragic accident, which understandably had a huge emotional impact on him, and once again left Jason without a secure home to return to.

“Sofa surfing with friends became much harder with COVID-19 because people, even friends would turn me away…”

So Jason returned to sofa surfing, except this time due to the coronavirus pandemic sofa surfing became even more challenging than normal.

Jason explained: “Sofa surfing with friends became much harder with COVID-19 because people – even friends – would turn me away, worried about the virus because I had been mixing with people with no settled place to stay.”

Having no stable place to live, Jason presented himself to the Housing Hub. At this point, Jason was again referred to the team at SASH and (after a careful risk assessment due to the ongoing lockdown) was placed with his volunteer host, Gill.

We asked Jason what a SASH placement means to him. He replied: “Being at Gill’s means that I have stability and I don’t have to worry about where I will stay each night. My mental health has improved a lot, knowing that I have my own space.

“I like to write stories and poems and being in SASH means I have the head space to do that. My Host Gill is really supportive. Before, I was really anxious because coronavirus made everything harder.

“I feel safe and really supported.”

“I’ve got somewhere really comfortable now and it’s made everything easier, like being able to stay at home when the lockdown rules meant you couldn’t leave the house. I feel safe and really supported.

“It means so much to me to be staying with a Host who really cares and is interested in me as an individual.”

June is Pride month, something that SASH actively supports by attending marches and festivals with supported young people who want to participate. With many Pride events being cancelled this year, Jason reflects on what Pride Month means to him:

“It means so much to me to be staying with a host who really cares and is interested in me as an individual.

“Gill always listens and she’s really open minded. We talk about lots of things and I feel safe and accepted for being ‘me’.”

SASH has supported Jason to access bereavement counselling and has helped him apply to a local charity for a grant towards future education. We’re delighted to say that during his stay in SASH, Jason has received an offer from Leeds Beckett University to study English Literature and Creative Writing. Jason puts it in his own words: “being in SASH means I can plan ahead and think about a positive future”.

SASH believes every young person deserves a chance for a bright future, and we’re committed to supporting vulnerable young people like Jason to independent lives and to breaking the cycle of homelessness. If you want to be part of the solution to youth homelessness in our community, you can donate here.

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