Two young people with long dark hair wearing sunglasses outside in a park

Millie and Katie's story: Sisters together

Sisters Millie* (21) and Katie* (24) came to Centrepoint together during the pandemic; Katie making the move to support her younger sister with her anxiety. They have both been supported by the Centrepoint Bursary Scheme which has funded Millie’s beauty therapy course and Katie’s TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course.

Nowhere to go

Millie became homeless after living with her partner at his parent’s home. A family fall-out meant that she had to move out. She wasn’t able to move back in with her parents as they only had two bedrooms and her sister was already there, back from university.

Supporting each other

After sofa-surfing at her parent’s place for a period, Millie approached Centrepoint for help. When she arrived for her assessment, she asked whether her sister could also move in to provide additional support as she suffered from severe anxiety and felt nervous about moving into a hostel. At the time, the hostel had availability and they recommended that Katie also came in for an assessment.  This was done on the same day and they were able to move in together, making the transition a lot easier and they settled in well.

Valuable support from Centrepoint

Key worker Michelle has supported the siblings in various ways, whether that be around finances, independent living skills or education.

“Michelle is amazing,” says Millie, “I literally can’t fault her. I can go to her with anything and she is always there to provide support. Looking for accommodation is all really new and she helps me understand it all. She’s helped me get back to college and I don’t think I would have done that on my own. She’s also helped me to get the things I need for college, such as a uniform, if I’m not able to pay for it.”

Katie, who has a keen interest in art (she studied textiles at university) says, “Michelle is relaxed and you can talk to her about anything. She’s always available and there for you. For example, when I wanted to do litter picking she helped me get what we needed. She’s also given me some art supplies to paint on canvas and put them in one of the buildings round here. It was good to have something to do during lockdown.”

She adds, “I feel like it’s been really good for our independence living here. It feels like living in halls at university. There’s other people around to socialise with and it feels like a little community.You have your own bedroom with an on-suite and we have a shared communal kitchen with three other people.”

Bursary support

The sisters have both received financial support from the Centrepoint Bursary which has enabled them to pursue their educational interests

“I’m doing beauty therapy so I’ve needed a kit, the uniform and the fee for the course,” explains Millie. “It’s in Leeds so I also get my travel fare paid by the bursary. It would have been so much harder for me without that support. The fact that I have been able to get from talking to Michelle about wanting to do beauty therapy to actually doing it so quickly and smoothly is all down to her and the bursary so I’m really grateful,” she enthuses.

Katie, who is studying for a TEFL qualification says, “The bursary has been so helpful. It’s another stepping stone into helping you with what you need to move on. The course will help me to get a job and I wouldn’t have been able to afford it on my own. I don’t know where else I’d get that support.”

Hopes for the future

Both sisters dream of travelling with their qualifications in the future. “I want to carry on with college and eventually work in a spa or on cruise ships. It seems like a nice option,” says Millie.

Katie has dreams of travelling the world which she hopes to fund using her TEFL qualification. “I think it will be a great way to travel and see the world a bit,” she muses.

Millie has recently moved on from Centrepoint to live with her partner and Katie has moved into one of Centrepoint’s self-contained flats which is giving her more independence before eventually moving on.

Michelle says, “Katie is so helpful. She will help staff with turning round rooms ready for new residents, she does litter picking on the front and back of the blocks and is always willing to help with anything that she can.  We try to give her food vouchers for helping out and this helps her with food due to her being celiac and vegetarian.”

We are excited to hear how things develop for the siblings. Watch this space!

*names have been changed