I was in SASH around 5 years ago, when I was about 16. I’d left home after a big fight with my dad. I’d seen my older sister go through the same thing, the constant fights, and I decided I didn’t want to put my younger brother and sister through that. It leaves marks on you, seeing your family be like that.
So I left. It was a big thing for me because obviously it left me homeless. But I wouldn’t have changed a thing, because of the way SASH helped me through the whole process.
At first I went to stay with my grandma. But I was sleeping on the floor, so it wasn’t ideal. I was there for about three months. I was going through my last year at school at the time and it had a massive impact on my education. I was quite bright, I was predicted As, A*s, Bs, but I was missing out on homework and revision, and I ended up coming out with Bs and Cs. Not what I expected.
Sometimes in life you get thrown in at the deep end. SASH don’t drag you out of a situation, they teach you how to get out of it. When I left home, it felt like everyone had given up on me. SASH gave me that belief that no matter how much of a bad situation you’re in, there’s always someone that will help you, someone to go to. They don’t judge you. If you do something wrong, they help you. They don’t force you; they guide you and let you do your own thing. They teach you life skills, not irrelevant things.
I was in SASH about 5 months, and then I went to live with my girlfriend, but SASH still helped me and kept an eye on me while I was there, before I got my own place.
It’s a bit sad really that I haven’t kept in touch with my host. Because her opening the door to me and letting me stay in her home, when I think about it now, is a massive thing. I’ve got my own flat now. I know that opening your door can be quite a hard thing to do, because it’s your little sanctuary, your little place where you go if there’s something wrong. But I have had three friends in the past year who have been homeless who have stayed with me, just as a transition into finding their own place. So knowing now what I know, it brightens you up a little bit, knowing that there are people like that who will do things for you.
“They don’t force you; they guide you and let you do your own thing.”
Eventually I went back to college and studied horticulture, but then ended up working in a restaurant and I found I enjoyed the hospitality sector – I like the pace of it. The hours are gruelling, but I’m happy because what I do is putting a roof over my head. You have to learn to look at the bigger picture – it might be a bit rubbish because you’re not seeing your friends or your family or able to go out, but at the end of the day it’s putting a roof over your head, food in your stomach and that’s what you’ve got to do.
I work full time, between 40-50 hours, maybe a few more, but the few extra hours that I work pay for my little luxuries. It’s not an easy ride, but it’s nicer. There are people my age who have gone to uni and they’re struggling and they’ve got mum and dad helping them. They’ve got a car, nice clothes, etc. But everything that I’ve got, everything I’ve put in my flat, I’ve paid for it. I’ve made my own home. There’s no other feeling like it when you’ve been through so much.