By Alex Mankoo – Volunteer with HOPE worldwide UK
Elle was in her mid thirties when she became homeless in early January 2014. Throughout her twenties, she struggled with alcohol addiction and when she came to HOPE worldwide UK she had been clean for eight months, with help from her Alcoholics Anonymous group and finding God in her faith. In November 2012 she had moved in order to get away from London and keep clean. She moved back to London clean in May 2013 and stayed with a friend, but when their tenancy ended Elle became homeless. She slept in churches in West London and after just over a month she was referred to Two Step.
Elle interviewed with Two Step on the 20th February 2014, and by the 6th March she had been set up in long-term accommodation. I had the opportunity to ask Elle some questions about her experiences by email.
Note the name of the client has been changed for purposes of anonymity.
What is the hardest thing about being homeless?
The hardest thing about being homeless is the sense of lack of dignity, or even the sense of dignity decreasing. Not having a place to call your own is emotionally difficult and puts pressure mentally to sustain a sense of worth. This, for me, triggered feelings of failure and frustration.
What were your experiences with the HOPE worldwide UK – Two Step program like?
The first person I met at Two Step was Margrethe. I was really grateful for how polite and human she was because in the system sometimes it can be robotic, due to forms and procedures – but Two Step was different. I was asked questions with empathy and kindness and it meant a lot.
I next spoke to Gavin at HOPE worldwide UK– he called me on my mobile regarding viewing properties and again he was so polite and understood the urgency I was feeling.
I have a history of addiction issues and I can sincerely say that Two Step assured me that it was worth holding on, and I was going to give up at points – I really was. They kept calling to keep me updated with my case etc and found me a place.
I think that other schemes for the homeless could learn from HOPE worldwide UK, about how to engage with clients because it can result in someone giving up or carrying on.
I really appreciate Karen too at the Daycentre because there was communication between staff so I wasn’t asked things over and over. The volunteers made me tea / coffee, and I was helped through the most awful time and dangerous time – it worked for me, as I know it does for others I’ve met who have been housed through Two Step.