Munii's Story: Moving my Life Forward
Centrepoint’s Independent Living Programme was created as a response to a severe shortage of stable and affordable housing for young people on low incomes. The idea is that young people will pay no more than a third of their income on rent in a safe and secure home. For Munii, one of the first people who benefited from the programme, this has been a game-changer. This is her story.
"The Independent Living Scheme has meant that I haven't been constantly anxious about money all the time. I don't come from a situation where I have the financial support of a family when things get tough so it's just allowed me to breathe, and focus on the things that I really want to be doing, instead of worrying about paying London rents.
As an apprentice on a relatively low income, if this option wasn’t available to me, things would be really different for me right now. I imagine that I'd either be in serious debt and have terrible mental health because of it, or I'd be on the streets. I really believe that.
My Centrepoint journey began four years ago when I moved into a Centrepoint hostel from another hostel which was for all ages.
When I first arrived, what I really loved was that everyone was roughly in my age group, so I felt less isolated and more confident in engaging with my environment. The place I was at before was a lot of older women and their kids who came from very different backgrounds and were at a contrasting stage in their journey. So Centrepoint felt more appropriate for my needs at the time.
Right from the start, I received so much support: from staff helping me write my CV to having access to therapists and dieticians.
After a year living at the hostel, I was offered an apprenticeship through Centrepoint’s Jobs, Education and Training team (JET) at a marketing agency called Rapp. Along with this opportunity, I was then able to move into our first Independent Living property, which has been my home for almost three years. It’s not been the smoothest of rides with the pandemic, but I always knew that there was someone I could turn to when I was in trouble.
Being here, I've honestly just been able to focus on myself, work and my side hustles. I enjoy painting and messing around with music in my spare time, and I know that I wouldn’t have the time to explore and hone those skills if I was paying extortionate rent ass I may have had to take on an extra job.
In the next stage of my journey, I hope to move into one of Centrepoint’s self-contained Independent Living flats and develop my career. Because the rent is affordable, I hope to save money for the future which will go towards a deposit for my own house one day. I’m currently looking at jobs within Centrepoint because I want to do something that has a positive impact on the quality of life for young people and as I’m a resident now I’ll be able to bring unique insight.
I’ve done so many great things during my time here. I’ve done some great workshops and gone on trips.
I absolutely love anything creative. And to me, it's so lovely that Centrepoint put in the effort to find all these workshops or activities that we can get involved in. For example, at a Dazed magazine event, I was able to take part in a photography workshop and I was gifted an iPhone. I also did some t-shirt printing and listened to some inspiring talks from former residents.
I even went on a residential trip last winter to Stoke-on-Trent, where I took part in adventure activities and connected with other young people from across Centrepoint’s services.
It was refreshing to get out of London and do something active. I feel like at Centrepoint, it’s not about us having a roof over our heads. It's about trying to excite us about life again.
I know it can be difficult for young people to engage when they are going through difficult situations, but my advice to other young people would be, don't be afraid to ask for support. Whether it’s advice you seek or a space away from things. Say what you need because your needs deserve to be met.
I’ve been supported by many staff members during my time at Centrepoint, but there is one who I want to give a special mention to. Elayne, from the Jobs, Education and Training team.
She has been one of the most impactful people in my life. She’s genuinely down to earth and has always been real with me. She’s had my back, even when I wouldn't pick up phone calls or miss meetings. She never gave up. She kept on trying and I will always be grateful for that. Thank you, Elayne, and thank you Centrepoint!"
If you'd like to make a donation to Centrepoint and help support our Independent Living Programme visit our donation page.