ARE YOU HOMELESS, SOFA SURFING OR AT RISK?

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Catherine's story

Catherine has been homeless on and off since she was 15. After a traumatic childhood she developed a number of mental health issues.

Since being supported by Centrepoint, she’s now ready to get back into education – she’s taken on an access course and hopes to go on to study Politics at university.

a traumatic childhood

Catherine had a normal family life until the age of eight, when her relationship with her dad became extremely volatile. It got to the point where they couldn’t be in the same room together.

Catherine says she’s blocked a lot of it out because it was so traumatic, but the violence and chaos in the house was unbearable.

Catherine said: ‘My dad used to drag me up the stairs by my hair. He’d do really weird things like lock me out of the kitchen so I couldn't go and make myself something to eat. He used to call me pathetic, call me fat and say that I wasn't getting anywhere.’

Catherine has complex mental health needs and developed an eating disorder which led to her being hospitalised on a number of occasions.

Without a stable home to go to when leaving hospital, Catherine struggled to cope with the outside world.

Wanting to escape her horrible surroundings, Catherine started drinking and taking drugs, and hanging around with the wrong people.  

Unable to live with her family, and struggling to find support from the council, Catherine turned to sofa surfing, often with strangers, or sleeping on the streets when she had nowhere to go.

Catherine said: ‘Sofa surfing isn't nice. You're constantly on edge. You feel like a huge burden because you've got no money, you've got nothing to offer them back. So your self-worth becomes even lower than what it was before. You're dehumanised.’

Catherine fell into abusive relationships, staying with men who were violent, controlling and much older than her, who knew she had nowhere else to go.

After a long time feeling as though she was going around in circles, and passing from one agency and hostel to another, Catherine heard that it might be possible to get accommodation in Bradford.

That's when she came to Centrepoint.

‘It was that point where it was a decision in my own head. Where I asked: do I use the tools to get on the road to recovery or am I just going to shut everyone else out and end up back in hospital? And I couldn't do it anymore. I was tired of that lifestyle.’ 

Centrepoint support workers got Catherine volunteering, and helped her onto mini courses which got her motivation back up. She said: ‘Then I got involved in Centrepoint Parliament and I just got the drive back that I knew was in me but my illness had kind of taken over. It's kind of refreshed who I am: That I am Catherine and not a mental illness.’ 

With a stable home and a positive support network at Centrepoint, Catherine feels ready to get back into education.

She said: ‘I feel like this is my chance. I'm somewhere that is safe, that is my own and that I'm managing and that's a massive boost.’

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