“I’m educated, I worked in the City, and I’m trying to get my own business developed – I don’t fit most people’s stereotype of someone facing homelessness. My story is unique.”
Following some financial trouble, Yasmin* and her young daughter moved back in with her family in 2012. For a while, it was fine, even quite reassuring to have her family to depend on. But over time, conflicts brewed, and in 2015 Yasmin’s mother evicted her from the family home.
“I didn’t think I’d ever face homelessness – and I certainly didn’t think it would be my own family who would make my homeless.”
Yasmin became part of a growing number of people within society who are ‘hidden homeless’ – people with no stable accommodation of their own, but who aren’t sleeping rough or being cared for through homelessness organisations.
She became reliant on friends, her and her daughter sleeping on sofas and in spare rooms. She was at the mercy of ‘random acts of kindness’ in order to protect her daughter from the situation they found themselves in.
“I’ve had to be my own lawyer, counsellor, MP, doctor – it’s been a really hard journey. All I needed was some basic support to help me get back on my feet.”
Yasmin was trying to keep her business going, and had some great interest in it, but her own income was patchy – ‘scattergun’ as she termed it – and the money she did get, she spent first and foremost on providing for her daughter; her top priority.
But she wasn’t getting much support – her council wasn’t helping, and some organisations had simply offered basic assistance with things like literacy or numeracy courses, solutions which didn’t meet her particular needs.
“There’s no action plan for people who are ‘hidden homeless’ – I want to change that. I want to help others, and to reduce the stigma around homelessness.”
What Yasmin actually needed was help that looked at her existing skills and talents and sought to use them to support her to move on from homelessness. She needed clothes for job interviews, help developing her business, and stability for her daughter.
In the autumn of 2015 she started working with St Mungo’s Business Mentoring team, who took the time to listen to her story, and who sought to bring out her potential. Yasmin and the team have been working together for about 18 months now, and while she still faces challenges, she’s managing to get some more stability back into her life.
“St Mungo’s is helping me to rebuild my life. They’ve actually looked at my circumstances and helped where I needed it most. The Business Mentoring team in particular has been exceptional.”
*this is Yasmin’s story, and quotes directly from her, but we’ve not used her image.