27 June 2019

I moved out of the family home when I was 16 and sofa surfed for a while, whilst working a full time job and studying for my A Levels. I continued to stay with different friends for many years. At 21 I met my partner, and I had been working in retail for 6 years.

Unfortunately in 2016 I did something really stupid that resulted in me losing my employment. What I did had a huge impact on my reputation in the industry where I worked and slowly but surely everything I knew began to slip away from me. I lost everything, including my partner and my home and my mental health began to suffer.

On and off throughout the years I have struggled with my mental health, but I didn’t really understand it. I didn’t realise the impact it was having on me, in everything I did including my ability to work, my relationships with others and the way in which I communicated. Only until recently it has been a struggle for me, attempting to look after myself mentally and physically, whilst dealing with a loss in my family, and trying to financially keep my head above water.

Despite all of the above going on I have found a safe and nice place to stay, a room in a shared house which is affordable for me. The Council were brilliant in supporting me access the accommodation and I view it as a stepping stone to my future. I would like ideally to have a place of my own, however I have several things I need to sort to be able to be considered for this, such as paying back previous rent arrears from when things went wrong. Living here for the time being means I can afford to address the past whilst working towards my future.

I would highly recommend the Tenant Accreditation Scheme, delivered by YMCA Dulverton Group – whether you live in their accommodation or not. It opened my eyes to a lot of things, including a better awareness of what my responsibilities are as a tenant and what my rights are also. The people who help you are so considerate, they work with everyone with all sorts of housing history, even if you have never lived independently before, this would be a great starting point for you. The knowledge I have learnt means that when the time comes for me to move on from here I know lots of information about Private and Social tenancies and feel equipped to manage my move on myself. I also have a better understanding of why it is so important to look after myself now and in the future, and the consequence of what could happen to my housing if I don’t.