"I felt like nobody cared whether I lived or died."
Abi became homeless at 18 after her mum’s death. The grief made the already volatile relationship with her dad worse and staying at home became impossible.
Quickly she went from sofa surfing to sleeping rough in Manchester at the coldest time of year.
Abi said: "I sofa surfed for a good three to four weeks but it never felt like somewhere I could permanently stay because the people I was staying with had kids and I was basically intruding in their family life. I was quite mentally unstable at the time; I was getting snappy with people. I was grieving and I just didn’t know how to control the thoughts and feelings that I had. I had anxiety as well – I just thought everyone was against me."
£10 was all Abi had. With it she made her way into town and slept rough for the first time. It was October and freezing cold. Abi was totally unprepared for the dangerous reality of sleeping rough.
Abi had no one to turn to and put all of her trust in a homeless man she'd met, Teddy. He helped her find cardboard and set up a bed on the streets. “Guard your cardboard with your life, it’s your bed,” he told her.
In November Teddy died from the cold.
When Christmas Day came, she was all alone with nothing to eat and no one to talk to. “I felt like nobody cared whether I lived or died,” Coming to Centrepoint was a turning point for Abi.
Here she got a warm, safe room and received support to help rebuild her life. She learned life skills, cooking and budgeting, things she’d never had the chance to learn from her mum. Lindsay, her support worker, helped Abi with her mental health and applying for college – something Abi didn't think was possible.
Today, Abi has a flat of her own and graduated from university with a 2:1 in Health and Social Change. She's a qualified nurse and is running her own business making and selling cupcakes.
"Homelessness can literally happen to anyone over night. It can happen within a heartbeat," she says.
"You never know what life is going to throw at you. If it wasn’t for Lindsay and Centrepoint, I wouldn’t be the person I am today."