Lisa’s story

Staying in a pet friendly hostel really helps Lisa. Her mum’s dog, Marnie keeps her company and helps her stay motivated.

I started sleeping rough after leaving care at 16. I had been going to the West End in London with an older girl since I was about 13, and it was always exciting. There were all these older adults and I thought they were looking after me. One day, they said “do you want to try some crack?”, so I said yes. I didn’t have a clue what it was, but it was nice, and I carried on doing it. Then I started begging and shoplifting to get the money for it. So when I was 16, I left the children’s home legally and went back to the West End to sleep on the street.

A group of us used to sleep down by Leicester square. There was an old cinema that had shut down, and we would be in the front of the doorway. To be honest, at the time it seemed quite exciting because I’d never experienced any of that before. But as I got older, I realised it wasn’t exciting. It wasn’t exciting having to wake up and get money for drugs every morning.

I’m 38 now, and I’ve stayed in lots of hostels over the years, but this is the best hostel I’ve ever been in. The minute I walked through those doors, it’s like a proper community. You can come down for breakfast, they do wellbeing group, and the Recovery College is just across the street. They do arts and crafts and cookery groups. The managers are so friendly, and the staff will help you any way they can.

It’s really nice to be able to have Marnie, my mum’s dog here too. To be able to have a little companion. When I’m on my own I just want to stay in bed. Because I’m not using drugs anymore, I’m on methadone. But when I’ve got Marnie with me, I’m up at nine o clock. She’ll go out for a wee, have her breakfast, then we get ready and go over to the park. It’s a nice little routine we’ve got going. I couldn’t stay in all day with her, it wouldn’t be fair. She’d get bored.

I had dogs when I was sleeping on the streets too. I had Tyson, a staff, who I got as a tiny little puppy. Even when he was a baby, six months old, I felt safe with him. As soon as somebody would come close to me, he’d start barking. I ended up having him until he was really old – about 16.

But a lot of hostels won’t allow dogs in. I think, as long as the person is looking after their dog, and feeding it and not neglecting it, what’s the problem? It’s so good for people’s mental health, and to help them stop taking drugs. It definitely helps my mental health to have Marnie here now.

In future, I’d like to get my own place, with my own dog. I love staffs. I’m also trying to get into voluntary work – I want to do anything working with dogs. My support worker’s very encouraging, and he’s helping me look into it.

Here at St Mungo’s we recognise the powerful emotional support a pet can provide. That’s why we are one of the only charities to accept pets in our hostels. By donating to St Mungo’s, you can help save two lives from homelessness. Donate today.

Do you want to support us?

Together, we can make tonight the last night on the streets for thousands of people. Get involved today!

Do you want to support us?

Together, we can make tonight the last night on the streets for thousands of people. Get involved today!

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