Cara's Story: Homeless in the Noughties
When Cara’s father was experiencing mental health issues, she had to leave home. She went to live with her aunt for a while and then ended up sofa surfing with friends. Without no other options, she approached social services, who then placed her at a Centrepoint hostel.
Cara remembers how supported she felt by her keyworker at Centrepoint. “I remember my keyworker – Stefano. He was always there to help me. If I was on my own, I’d just come down and we’d have a chat. I never felt lonely,” she recalls. “He made me have confidence in myself. Together we built a committee for the service users. I was one of the people that service users could speak to if they had issues.”
“I think if it wasn’t for Centrepoint, I’d have probably been on the streets on drink and drugs. They made sure I always kept all my appointments. I had ADHD and they would keep an eye on my health,” she says.
Valuable life skills
Whilst at Centrepoint, Cara was able to access courses that helped to develop her independence and get back into education.
“Centrepoint helped me with budgeting and they helped me sort out my CV. I did computer courses too. I also did some educational training and we were visited by Prince William at the time because it was one of the first programmes to be run at Dean Street. Centrepoint also helped me apply for college, they kept me on track, always supporting me. It was brilliant.” She recalls.
Cara visited her old service in last year and was surprised by all the improvements that had taken place. “There’s even more available for the young people now. They do group cooking for the residents. That’s so great for people who have no skills. It was nice to go back and visit with my friend who I was there with and our children because they’re only six months apart.”
Cara's advice to other young people at Centrepoint today would be to, “Take everything that they give you. Take the advice – at the time it might not feel helpful, but later on it really does. I’ve got my own children now. To the staff at Centrepoint, we are their children; they are looking out for us. Don’t be afraid to tell the staff you’ve got an issue. They will offer you the help without judging you. Their help is non-stop.”
Cara’s time at Centrepoint inspired her to work within services. “I look after adults with learning disabilities. I’m a support worker. I’ve always liked helping people and they always gave me encouragement at Centrepoint and told me I was a caring person. “