Our interview with :


Please note: We have used a stock image to protect our client’s identity.

Could you tell us about the start of your journey with homelessness and what your experience was like?

Homelessness was not a choice for me. I had to flee domestic violence and within 24hrs I was completely homeless. I got a space for a refuge for 1 month. I was then moved to another city where I was in refuge for another one-and-a-half years before finally being given temporary accommodation. I was in temporary accommodation for more than 2 years until I was able to get an offer for permanent housing.

There was so much unwarranted behaviour from the other service users. All sorts of different behaviours involving drugs and alcohol. It was not a good accommodation for a child. I was even assaulted during my time in the refuge. It was a terrible experience. Basic safety wasn’t there at all. The safety of a house is not just bricks and mortar, it’s the safety of privacy too. 

How long were homeless for and what type of support were you receiving prior to your funding from Greater Change?

When I became homeless I had an 18 month old baby. My support was basically my domestic abuse support worker and some support from other agencies. There was emotional and some psychological support, as well as contingent issues such as needing a roof over our heads for the night, but there was little practical support. Moving towards being housed permanently and the legal aspects of our situation were totally not covered. There was also no support for my child, who had grown up in refuge and was now 2 years old.There are certainly gaps that need to be filled in that aspect. 

I feel as if a lot of support workers don’t really know everything that is available. I had to move a lot therefore I was going through a lot of different support workers and it is hard to get that trickle down information when you are in that position.

Could you tell us what your grant was used for and what impact that had on your life at the time?

The grant was specifically used for the basic furniture; beds for me and my child, table and chairs and a sofa. I had to fund my own white goods as I wasn’t deemed in need by the Essential Living Fund because I had been homeless for too long. We had to sleep on the floor for months when we first moved in. 

My support worker found out about Greater Change and applied for all of it on my behalf. I had to manage everything on my own and furniture was on the bottom of my list considering I had to fund my own white goods because I needed them to eat and store food etc for me and my child. So if I wasn’t able to get the help from Greater Change for the furniture, I don’t know what would’ve happened, it helped me in a way that I would never be able to express.

It made a huge difference, but one improvement I suggested at a Greater Change Alumni Programme meeting was to end the partnership with the British Heart Foundation for purchasing furniture, as it had limited availability and quality. Greater Change was extremely grateful for this feedback and has now ended the partnership with the British Heart Foundation to ensure greater flexibility, choice and quality for our clients.

What is your opinion on the support we provide as opposed to other support services?

Emotional support is really important and it is available. But the practical support to give you a real restart of your life, to have those basic things to practically help you start over and get out of homelessness, those things are not there. This is why Greater Change is really important.

Follow-up support as well really helps to understand where your impact lies. I got the Greater Change money over a year ago and you are still following up with me. This also helps me to understand how it impacted on my own life and reflect on that moment in time, where there was no practical support and budgeting support and now I see how important that is.

It is also really hard to know what is out there in terms of grants. Homelessness doesn’t come as a choice and the people who are in need lose their autonomy. That’s why Greater Change does more than simply provide practical support.

Since receiving our grant, what kind of situation are you in now? Are you in stable housing?

Oh well, there’s been a huge change. It’s been like night and day. An empty house is really sad, how are you supposed to make it a home? You already start worrying about how you are meant to furnish it. Greater Change gave me an opportunity to buy those things, comfortable seats, a place to eat, a bed etc.

I couldn’t work and my funds were low - for me it was a huge step because it happened very quickly, the disbursement of my funds happened within a week. It helps people tremendously, when you have to start something new and have to figure it out. It’s unexplainable in words - I don’t want to get rid of the sofa even if it’s past its time, I get attached to it and have made so many memories sitting on it. It allows you to create sentiment. It’s a really positive thing and isn’t a question of £650 - it’s the right step at the right moment. I had absolutely no funds left, so even now if I needed to replace the sofa, I can’t do it because I don’t have the funds. These things are irreplaceable. 

Imagine a person who had everything in a house, sitting with their coffee on the couch. Then suddenly you have nothing, not even the house, not the opportunity to do that. You suddenly go without the things you used to have and be so fond of. The grant gives you that back.

Do you have any aspirations for the future you want to share?

I’m looking after my health right now and when that is done, I want to look for work from home and do something business related, like analytics. I think that would be really important for me, like project management. I love analysing and I’ve done business projects previously, so I think that’s my calling.

A lot of people in the UK have never spoken to someone who is homeless and there are a lot of stigmas and stereotypes surrounding homelessness. What would you say to someone who may be misinformed?

The way I see homelessness now, compared to when I had never been a homeless person, has completely changed. That change should be part of everyone’s personal journey and making that change is simply just being non-judgemental and contributing whatever they can. Homelessness is a problem for everybody and not just for the individual experiencing homelessness.

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