Young person stood against wooden fence

Emily's story: Helpline was my first step from homelessness

Emily, 21, was referred to Centrepoint after calling the Centrepoint Helpline following a family breakdown. She has been placed in a shared house with other young woman and is hoping to return to education once her mental health feels more stable. She has a keen interest in psychology and hopes one day to become a forensic psychologist.

Violence at home

Emily* was living with her mum and stepdad when she became homeless. Her stepdad had a history of violence. One night, he returned home drunk, and began to harass Emily and make derogatory comments about her appearance. Things escalated and her stepdad called the police and told them she couldn’t live there anymore.

Emily’s boyfriend helped her find a place to stay that night and her friends helped pay for a hotel for a couple of nights after which, she contacted Centrepoint.

Emily recalls feeling very lost and alone at this time.

“It was quite scary. I was scared of being on the streets and I was hurt because my mum took my stepdad’s side," she recalls. "It was kind of like she was kicking me out as well. She suffers with her mental health so she relies on my stepdad a lot.”

Centrepoint helpline

When Emily called the Helpline, she remembers them being really supportive, clear and easy to understand.

“They helped me understand what the process was and that I was in priority need due to my age and because my mental health was bad already and had been triggered by this experience. During the time I was homeless I actually attempted suicide three different times within three weeks,” Emily admits.

The Centrepoint Helpline were able to connect Emily with Sharon, a Centrepoint HPRS (Homeless Prevention and Relief Worker).

“It was quite nerve wracking, because I didn't like fully understand what was going on in my head, I've been able to process it. But she was really sweet about it, she helped me understand what I needed to do, how they would support me the different teams.”

Sharon was able to find Emily temporary housing and eventually something more stable and appropriate.

Getting settled

Centrepoint were able to find Emily emergency accommodation in a hotel for a few weeks and then into shared accommodation with Bridge-It Housing where she is living with other young women.

“I’ve been here several weeks now and I really like it,” Emily says. “There is a lot more freedom and I can live my life more independently. We have floating support workers who come in twice a week to help us with like skills: cleaning, cooking, budgeting if we need it, but we still have a good degree of independence and I have become really close friends with the other girls in the house.”

Moving forward

Sharon was also able to refer Emily to both Centrepoint’s Education, Employment and training team and the mental health team.

“I've had a couple meetings with the mental health team, who have helped me be referred to therapy. It will be a two month wait which is much quicker than the NHS.”

Emily dropped out of college when she was 18 and hasn’t been back in education since. She is passionate about psychology and would like to eventually become a forensic psychologist, but finds it difficult to access work and education due to her physical and mental health issues. She suffers from anxiety and depression and is in the process of getting a further diagnosis. The hope is that the EET team will be able to ease Emily back into training and education at her own pace so she feels equipped to eventually go back into a more formal setting.

Emily is slowly getting stronger and moving in the right direction. Her advice to other young people is simple. “If you find yourself in a bad situation, don’t be afraid to reach out because there are people out there to help.”

*names have been changed