When Rana first became homeless because of family issues, she spent her savings on a hotel room before moving in with her aunt. However, this wasn't a long-term option and her money quickly ran out so she approached her local council for help who referred her to Centrepoint.
“The staff at Centrepoint were so welcoming and friendly and put me at ease and I settled in really well,” she remembers.
Centrepoint residents have regular key work sessions to support them with the things they want to achieve. This means help relating to education, employment and training, as well as supporting them with budgeting and finance, becoming tenancy ready and securing longer-term housing.
“Although I was quite independent already, my key work sessions were really helpful. My key workers Jamie and Cristina always went above and beyond and did everything they could to encourage me and find resources to help me. I always felt they really cared and were invested in the young people.”
Performing at the Centrepoint Judy Garland fundraising event
Rana was linked up with our jobs, education and training team as she was interested in any musical and creative opportunities. Her JET worker, Marcia, asked her if she wanted to get involved in the Centrepoint No Place Like Home Judy Garland fundraising event and she jumped at the chance.
“I love music and I love performing, and writing music is very therapeutic for me, so this event sounded like a good opportunity for me to get out there and try something new,” she enthuses.
“I’ve been into music ever since I was young – I began with the ukulele and singing, then I moved onto guitar, bass, piano and more recently drums.”
Rana performed with a host of celebrities and one of our ambassadors, Lisa Maxwell, in front of an audience of 1,000 people.
“I loved performing on stage. I wasn’t nervous, just really excited. I had performed to smaller audiences before, but this was the biggest.”
Moving into independence
Soon after the performance, Centrepoint supported Rana into her own tenancy with a housing association where she has a better chance of bidding for long-term social housing.
“Because I hadn’t lived in the borough for five years, I wasn’t able to bid for council properties, she explains. “However, Centrepoint helped me secure a flat with a housing association and now I can bid for longer-term properties with them. Securing housing is a minefield and Centrepoint helped me with everything and still help me now I’ve moved out. Ekwa, the service manager is amazing. She is so knowledgeable and gets things done. I needed some help recently and she got it done that day. I am so grateful.”
Royal Horticultural Society residential and Chelsea Flower Show
Recently, Rana was given the opportunity to go on a residential through Centrepoint and the Royal Horticultural Society. Rana joined four other young people for a four-day course in Windsor and met Cleve West, the designer of the Centrepoint Garden at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.
“Meeting Cleve was an honour,” says Rana. “He is really inspiring and his design is amazing. He’s clearly put so much thought into it and it is a beautiful metaphor for young homelessness and the strength and resilience of young people.”
“Being immersed in nature at the residential was wonderful and I know so many plant names now. I just hope I can remember them all,” she laughs.
“It’s been so good to meet so many passionate people and it’s taught me that it’s never too late to take a new path.”
Rana is hugely appreciative of the support and opportunities that Centrepoint provided. She even met her partner at the Centrepoint service and they just celebrated their first anniversary.
Rana is now fully independent. After working in lettings for the past two years, she is now a lettings director and has a unique perspective after experiencing homelessness herself.
"Going through homelessness makes me good at my job, as it has forced me to understand that it’s people’s lives that I am dealing with and that I could be one tenancy refusal away from making someone homeless," she explains. "This is why I am very understanding and empathetic with my tenants and always try to make them feel heard."
"On the flip side however, it has not always been easy to see tenants affording a £6,000 per month tenancy contract while I could not afford a small room for £600. But I have learned to understand that each person has their own struggle that might be worse than mine and you can only compare yourself to your past self."
We could not be prouder of Rana and all she has achieved so far and will inevitably go on to achieve.