Charrissa’s story

I became homeless after renting a property that I found online.

I paid a deposit and first month’s rent, then a week after I moved in, the police informed me the landlord was actually a squatter and was renting out the property illegally. I was offered no support and was told I had to leave with my dog Benji.

Image: Charissa, St Mungo's client

After I lost my flat I sofa surfed for a while, and then ended up sleeping under a stairwell in a friend’s building for four months. I was worried about other people in the building complaining to the council and getting my friend evicted, so sometimes I stayed outside. I remember spending a night on a park bench once, but it felt so dangerous I couldn’t sleep.

I had to quit my part-time job because of the travel costs, the stress of my situation and my depression. I was homeless for about eight months. I kept going to the council for help but they just told me I didn’t qualify as a priority. It got to the point where I was really depressed, suicidal even. I kept thinking, “I’ve got a degree, how did I get here?”

It was so hard not having my family around. I was scared of losing Benjie. I wanted to be a responsible dog owner and it didn’t feel right to keep moving him, but he was my only lifeline. He was the only thing keeping me going. In November, as the weather was getting worse, my friend called StreetLink.

St Mungo’s is really heaven to me. It’s a place where I feel safe, and I can progress with my future, because I’ve got the right people guiding me.

They contacted the closest outreach team, who came and found me that same night. They took me and Benjie to No Second Night Out, a centre where St Mungo’s assess people who are homeless for the first time and find the best place for them to go. Eventually Benjie and I moved into St Mungo’s Pagnell Street hostel. Now, I’m in my own place.

It’s amazing for Benjie – he’s got a whole garden to play in now. St Mungo’s helped a lot and thank God they accept pets! Because I don’t know where me and Benjie would be today otherwise. My depression has improved dramatically since starting LifeWorks a St Mungo’s Counselling programme. I am now in my second year of her Master’s degree in 3D animation and I volunteer with St Mungo’s.

St Mungo’s is really heaven to me. It’s a place where I feel safe, and I can progress with my future, because I’ve got the right people guiding me.

 


People can become homeless for many reasons and the effects of homelessness can be devastating. Read more stories in our ‘real life stories‘ section on our website. You can hear from more people who have shared their experiences and their hopes for their recovery and the future.