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'I thought that my life was always going to be in hostels'

By Staff Reporter

Published 17/12/2015

Big change: single mum ‘Anna’ has turned her life around
Big change: single mum ‘Anna’ has turned her life around

Single mother Anna - not her real name - has been homeless several times in her short life. The 22-year-old woman moved from one hostel to another over a two-year period in a fruitless attempt to find stability.

She had her daughter at 14 and moved out of her family home two years later because of her parents' alcoholism.

"I had to get out. There was domestic violence, too," says Anna, who couldn't take her daughter with her to stay in a hostel and instead the child moved in with her father.

"I thought that my life was always going to be in hostels. I thought I was trapped in that lifestyle."

But there was light at the end of the tunnel for Anna after a homeless organisation turned her life around.

"They met me on a regular basis and they set me up to go to work. They made sure I ate and did everything that you would expect in a family home," she says.

"But they also taught me to stand on my own two feet. I tortured the Housing Executive to give me a home and they even had to get staff to remove me from their offices on three different occasions.

"But I wouldn't give up. I wanted to see my daughter, but I didn't want her to see situations in hostel life, like people with severe addictions and from awful situations."

Anna, who sought the assistance of politicians in her fight for a home, turned down the offer of a one-bedroomed flat and eventually she got a three-bedroomed house in an area she wanted.

With her self-esteem and confidence boosted, Anna went to university and emerged with the qualifications to go looking for a job.

And then the wheel turned full circle as she got a position with the homeless organisation who had helped her.

Now Anna, who has gained joint custody of her daughter, assists people who are experiencing the difficulties she faced in the past.

"I support them in any way I can, making phone calls to their lawyer and doctors for example. I am just someone for them to talk to and help them with their washing and their cooking. I am something like a parent to them," she says.

"I don't talk a lot about what I went through, but I can empathise with them in a big way."

Belfast Telegraph

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