Denise’s Story

My name’s Denise, I’m disabled with a weakness on the right side of my body, and I use a wheelchair. It’s been a hard road.

I’ve been homeless on and off for a while, but five years ago I suffered an acquired brain injury after falling off a wall. Since then I’ve been moved around more than 60 hotels, and I’ve had to fight and fight to get suitable accommodation.

Before I got this flat I was sleeping rough for about seven weeks. I slept outside the hospital, or outside the train station in my wheelchair. I was vulnerable – anything could have happened to me.

The police would come and take me to A&E, then A&E would send me back out again because I’m not an accident or emergency, I’m homeless. A&E put me in their side room in the end and left me there, because I said it’s up to somebody to look after me. You cannot put me on the street anymore. Who’s duty of care is it? Police, council, or hospital? I’m not going anywhere.

Eventually, my social worker helped me to get my flat. When I was on the street anything could have happened to me. Now I can shut that front door and lock it. It’s safe. There’s nothing nicer than knowing you can lock the front door behind you and you’ve got your own stuff around you.

Sadly, it doesn’t give me my health back. I can’t get out of my front door, or the main door of the building. It’s not accessible for someone in a wheelchair. So my life consisted of getting up and going to bed.

Luckily, I was referred to St Mungo’s and they’ve really helped me. They come in as many times as need be. They help me with doctor’s appointments, and pay for my taxis. They take me to art class. I get so depressed sometimes. But they’re there, all the time. Woody, my support worker, is even helping me to get my door sorted.

Unless you’ve got a good social worker, or someone like St Mungo’s around you who can fight for your corner, you’ll be tired and just give up. I can imagine this is how lots of other people who are homeless feel. There’s never a day where it’s stress free.

Denise’s story was shared as part of our International Women’s Day campaign #Mungo’sVisibleWomen.