“When you are homeless there’s an awful lot you have thrown at you. A lot of people look at you saying you must have done something to be where you are, you must not have cared about your kids.”
“As recently as last winter, from October right up to April, I would have slept out most nights, at least four nights out of every week. You stick with people that are like you so you feel like you belong. You’re all escaping something, but no matter how bad you are there’s always someone worse.
“I wasn’t able to handle the death of my mother and had to ask my family to look after my children. Then when my partner passed away a couple of years ago, I ran…I just couldn’t go back to the house. That’s how I ended up homeless.
“Living on the streets, you don’t know from one end of the day to the other where you’re going to end up. A lot of times there were no beds available so you would have to ring up to get a sleeping bag. It wasn’t gold they were giving out, but to me that sleeping bag meant so much. You then need to rummage around, looking for cardboard to lie on for the night.
“Once it’s cold you try to find somewhere safe as well as somewhere that’s sheltered, as it could start raining. You also need to be somewhere that the Simon Rough Sleeper Team can find you in the morning.”
“If I was lucky enough to have any change, I would get on the buses or the trains, just to get in out of the cold and space out my day. I’ve gone all over the country, just to get a bit of heat and be able to use the bathroom.”
“You stick out like a sore thumb. You think you’re keeping yourself alright but you’re not. Everyone knows you’re homeless, they just know by looking at you.
“One day my social worker got in touch with the Simon Community and put my name forward for a place in their treatment and recovery services. I was nervous going in and it was a challenge every day, but that made me want to do it more. I was saying to myself “Yes, I’m going to do this.”
“I’ve always loved sport and football. When I came into Simon I started doing classes with Health and Wellbeing. Not just sport but everything that goes with it, sleep, nutrition and relaxation. I’m loving it! It’s just doing so much for me, mentally, physically and emotionally.”
“Now people aren’t afraid to sit beside me. Now I look like anybody on that bus or that train. It means the world.”
“My children always were the best thing ever that happened to me. I’m so proud of them and yet they tell me every single day that they’re so proud and they admire me. It makes the next chapter of my life exciting.
“Simon services need to be seen to be appreciated, to see what they are doing for people. The Simon Community is a lifeline. In some cases, and in my own, it’s a matter of life and death.”
With the encouragement and care of Simon, Tracey has now moved on from homelessness. Because of the support of people like you, she is living in our residential aftercare service and has recently started a Pre-Employment Course. She is currently the star of the Simon Football Team and is looking forward to what the future has to bring.
A gift of whatever you can afford will help people like Tracey this winter.
*Tracey’s name has been changed to protect her identity