“I left home at 16 … It felt like anything could go wrong at any time”
I left home at 16. I was living with my dad, but I felt like where I was I couldn’t be myself. I just wanted to go out and work and get on with life. I thought if I was on my own I’d have more independence.
I rented a house with a friend but I didn’t have any formal agreement. She said I owed her money and she kicked me out. By then my dad had got a new family and there wasn’t room for me back home.
I went to stay at my boyfriend’s house, but then his family were wondering why I was staying there so often. His parents were OK with it when they found out about my situation but I stayed with another friend sometimes so I wasn’t there all the time.
It felt like anything could go wrong at any time, say if I fell out with my friend, then where would I stay for the night? I was in an apprenticeship at that time. I ended up quitting it because I was so low and depressed and I couldn’t handle it. And then I had no money coming in so things just got worse. It was like that for about two months. I was 17 by that time.
I went to the Housing Office and they told me what my options were. I chose SASH because I thought it sounded like the most suitable option for me. The other options were temporary and I didn’t want something where I was going to have to keep moving around.
As soon as I walked in, I thought ‘Wow this place is really nice!’. It seemed really cosy, and a nice warm atmosphere. The first few nights I felt a bit weird, staying in someone else’s house. But the person I live with is lovely, very bubbly, easy to talk to and to get along with. She has three cats. I didn’t use to like cats, but I do since I’ve been here.
It only took a couple of weeks to settle in. At first my host was cooking for me, but then I chose to do my own cooking as it would give me a bit more independence. I already knew how to cook from living on my own before.
When I first moved in I was very low. I have ways now that I manage my low days and I’ve become a lot more confident. That’s a big change for me. Before I couldn’t talk to anyone, I’d be really shy, but now when I first meet someone I can go up to them and say ‘Hi, this is me!’
I think it’s because I’m living somewhere that is a bit more stable than before, and it gives you a bit more confidence about yourself. It’s given me thinking space. I feel more confident with being able to go out and do interviews and get a job. I’ve not been successful yet but at least I know I have something to offer.
I’m a lot less worried about things since I’ve been here. Iused to always worry about everything, but now I’m a bit more relaxed. It’s not that I don’t care, I do care but I’m trying to be like ‘Oh well, if that doesn’t go to plan, I’ve always got this, so it’s ok’.
I’m quite confident about budgeting as well. Before, as soon as I had money I’d go out and spend it. Now whenever I’m about to get paid I’ll write a little list of what I’m going to get with it, how much I’ll have leftover for emergencies. I’ve learnt to do that while I’ve been here – I’ve had time to think, to put things in priority.
At the moment I’m enjoying the stability, I’m enjoying my environment. I don’t really like change to be honest, but I’ve always got that thought about moving on, because I do want to move on, but I want to do it at a time when I know I can actually be stable.
When I feel secure that I have an income and that I’m enjoying what I’m doing I’ll know it’s time. I’ve done some training about tenancies, I still have stuff to learn but I know some things already.
Long term, I just want my own place, and a job. Probably bar-work because my dad has owned bars all his life and being around that environment makes me happy. I’ll probably stay in Harrogate because it’s where my mum is and I like to be close to her. We didn’t used to be close when I was little, but we’ve become a lot closer now.
Without SASH, I’d probably still be staying at lots of different people’s houses and not settled. I don’t think I’d have the confidence I have now or the stability to think about my future.