ARE YOU HOMELESS, SOFA SURFING OR AT RISK?

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"I was happy to be working during the pandemic, rather than sitting at home watching the news."

Dineer* is 20 years old and became a Centrepoint resident in January. During lockdown, she became a keyworker herself, working as a chef at a major hospital in South West London. Here she talks about her experiences during the pandemic and her hopes to start her own business in the future.

Dineer's Story

Being a keyworker during lockdown

I was happy to be working during the pandemic, rather than sitting at home watching the news. It meant I could be actively doing something and helping others rather than being bored.

In my job, everyone was very friendly. The time passed quickly having different conversations with different people. Being in the hospital also gave me a little bit of hope. In the Covid ward I worked in at least, a lot of the patients recovered and went home. When I started, we had around eighteen or nineteen people and by the end of my time working there, we were down to six. When you saw the news of the death count it was saddening to see, but being there and seeing people recover gave me hope.

I think that as well as the death count, they should also announce the amount of people who are recovering because it gives people hope that there are people overcoming this virus.

Hostel life

I became homeless when I lost my job and my grandma could no longer support me. At first I came to a higher support hostel, but when the staff could see how independent I was – I know how to cook, clean and I know about keeping up with rent and council tax - then I was moved to a lower support hostel where I have my own studio flat. I was made to feel welcome at Centrepoint by both the staff and residents.

Since I’ve been here, the relationship between me, my grandma and my mum has improved. I’ve realised that when I lived with them I behaved quite disrespectfully – smoking in the house to ease my anxiety, but I wasn’t really thinking of those around me.

I suffer from anxiety quite badly and I’ve been able to work on that since being here. They had someone who came in and helped residents with their social skills.  I was doing that for a while and I just felt more confident. There are times when I don’t feel as confident but I’m finding ways to work on getting myself out of that place.

Starting her own business

Before lockdown, I was due to start a business course through The Prince’s Trust, but that has been put on hold for now due to social distancing. I’m really looking forward to it because not only does it teach you about starting your own business, but you are assigned a tutor who helps you apply for a loan to get your business started.

I want to start my own beauty company focusing on eyes – so eye make-up, lashes and eyebrows. At the hostel, I’ve been able to practise doing lashes and eyebrows for some of the other residents. It was my friend’s birthday in the hostel and I did extension box braids for her.

Dineer has flourished whilst at Centrepoint despite the difficulties around lockdown and has now been nominated for a move-on property. She has developed in confidence and has big dreams and aspirations for her future.

*names have been changed.

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