Becca's story: Football changed my life
For as long as she can remember, Becca always had problems at home.
“My dad was bipolar and schizophrenic. He used to be quite violent with my mum when I was growing up,” she says.
“My Mum finally split up with my dad after my youngest brother was born. But she went onto drugs. After that I kind of looked after my brother and sister.
Becca’s mum stopped taking drugs when she met a new boyfriend – but her new partner would still take drugs in the house.
“I was protective over the family. We’d been through a lot already and I didn’t want him using drugs in the family home.”
It got to the point where Becca was fighting with her mum’s boyfriend all the time and didn’t feel safe at home.
“I used to stay with my nan sometimes, but then she found out I was a lesbian so she wouldn’t let me stay with her anymore.”
Too scared to fall asleep
But worse was to come. When Becca was 14, her father committed suicide.
“That really sent me off the rails. I lived on the streets for two or three weeks because I was too young to be in a hostel. I was still in school doing my GCSEs,” she recalls.
“I remember being too scared to fall asleep. I slept in the doorway of a few buildings a few times, but I had a friend whose mum used to work early in the morning so I’d walk around for most of the night, then go there and get ready for school.”
Becca finally got into a hostel when she was 16 and lived together with her first girlfriend. But after being kicked out of the hostel, they were separated and her ex-girlfriend became addicted to heroin.
“At this point, I was doing an apprenticeship in business in an office. But after my ex became a heroin addict, it just kind of broke me. I just started partying every day, taking drugs.”
Representing her country at the Homeless World Cup
While living at a hostel, Becca discovered the Homeless FA’s street football programme.
“Before I was involved with the football, there wasn’t much that I would engage with. I was just in a bad way. And though I got into it for the football, I soon realised it was way bigger than that, and I started to learn different transferable skills that really helped me in day-to-day life,” she says.
After excelling at the training centre, Becca was selected to play for England at the Homeless World Cup in Mexico in 2012.
During this time Becca also formed a strong bond with Gareth – founder of the Homeless FA. The Homeless FA then merged with Centrepoint, and has now grown to become the Centrepoint Engagement team.
“I always choke up when I say this but Gareth believed in me when nobody else did. He didn’t have to and to be honest if I met me, I don’t know if I would. That’s why I get passionate about working for them.”
Showing others there's a way out
Becca has now been involved with the Centrepoint Team England programme for six years. She volunteers as a coach of the team, and recently mentored players at the Homeless World Cup in November 2018 – again in Mexico. In her role as welfare, she helped made sure other players had the same experience she did and got the most from the tournament.
“Gareth always used to joke that I was a leader, but in a cheeky way. Now I’ve transformed it – I want to be a manager. The transformation from where I was to how I am now, it’s unreal.”
Becca is currently training to be become a hotel manager and recently went travelling by herself for the first time.
“When you’re living in a hostel at 16, who’d ever imagine that you could travel the world? I think when you’re homeless, you can get sucked into that world where you think it’s never going to end, but it does.
“I know who I am and I know who I want to be and where I want to be.”
Becca has recently been painted by artist Zabou for our #22000 campaign.
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