Person in wetsuit carrying surfboard

Carrianne's story: Centrepoint saved me

Carrianne came to London in search of her father in 1983 at just 15-years-old. She met two punks in Soho who told her about the Centrepoint night shelter. She lied about her age to get in and stayed there for two weeks whilst they helped to find her father. Today, Carrianne has three adult children and one grandchild, lives in Devon and is a keen surfer, horse rider and boxer.

Family breakdown and seeking her father

In 1983, following a breakdown in the relationship with her mother and stepfather, Carrianne ran away to London in search of her father. She was just 15 years old and hadn’t seen him since she was five. She had no idea of his address or where she was going.

“I was really troubled and unhappy at home. I had run away a couple of times previously and slept rough, but this time I wanted to find my Dad. I ran away with my little blue vanity case. I thought I knew exactly what I was doing at the time, but I was incredibly naïve. I just didn’t have a clue. I had no idea how I was going to find my father as I had no details for him at all.”

Spreading the word about Centrepoint night shelter

Luckily, on the first night that she arrived in London, Carrianne was befriended by some punks in Leicester Square.

“They must have noticed that I was vulnerable and they took me for something to eat at McDonalds,” she remembers. “I only had about £10 to my name. I told them I was 17 and that I had come to London to look for work. They told me about the Centrepoint night shelter in Soho which is where they were staying.”

“I remember a gate and there was a woman with a clipboard and I had to fill out some forms. I lied about my age. I remember being there and feeling looked after. We had to leave in the day time, but would come back to sleep there and I was there for about a fortnight.”

Carrianne remembers that the staff at Centrepoint were amazing and made her feel safe. After two weeks, she was called into the office and they told her that the British Transport Police had found her father, who worked on the underground. They took her to Paddington Station where she met her father for the first time in ten years.

Further turmoil with family

She lived with her father and his wife for about six months, but the relationship fell apart and Carrianne went back to the Midlands where she was placed in care as her mother and stepfather refused to have her back.

This was an extremely difficult time of her life.

“That year when I was 15-16 was the worst of my life, but if it wasn’t for Centrepoint and those friendly punks, I really don’t know what would have happened to me.”

“When I see your posts come up on social media, I say to my husband that I am so passionate about the work you do because it did save me. I could have ended up anywhere and anything could have happened and thanks to you it didn’t. It’s a really strong memory for me, being safe and supported in that hostel.”

Living her best life

Carrianne no longer has a relationship with her mother or father, but says she leads a happy life.

Today, aged 55, she is a mother of three adult children and a grandmother to one. She lives in Devon and she is a keen surfer, horse rider and amateur boxer.

“I’ve just done a charity fight aged 55,” she laughs.  “I have a great life, we spend all our time on the beach and I can wait to teach my grandson to surf better than his nanny.”

What an amazing woman! We are so pleased we could be there for her when she was in need all those years ago.

Person on empty sandy beach carrying surfboard to the sea

Carrianne on the beach in Devon

Person on a horse in a stream with bridge in background

Carrianne on horseback