“Before I was sleeping rough, I had a really good job working in Costa Rica. I had a wonderful life, money, a nice home, a nice boyfriend… up until August 2020. I lost my job because of Covid and I was stranded in Costa Rica for 5 months. Everything went downhill so quickly. I think I was in denial for the first month when I got back to London. 

I couldn’t see my friends or family because of lockdown, so I had my head in the ground because I didn’t want to admit what had happened. 

After losing my job, I lost my home. That’s when I thought… this is real. Then I had to start sleeping rough. 

In a space of months, I had gone from earning a good living to nothing. And I didn’t know how I got there. I was sleeping rough thinking, how this this happen? When did it happen? 

A friend of mine said to go down to Whitechapel. I phoned up and got put through to Sonia. She told me to come down to the centre the following morning, which I did. 3 hours after meeting her, she got me into a hostel. 

The hostel paid for an Uber for me to get there. It was in central London, by Soho Square. They gave you a Tesco’s voucher every few days to get some food.”

“I contacted Tower Hamlets Council looking for more permanent accommodation. Somehow, I feel like I got put to the top of the list, but a week after moving into a hostel, I got offered a shared house. 

When I had my interview, I had it here in the Whitechapel Mission. I had a shower, cleaned myself up, had a shave, and I was here in the computer suite having the interview. Sonia and Hayley gave me food parcels to take back to my new shared house. 

The help that I received here, from Sonia and Hayley has been second to none. To come from sleeping in a doorway and carrying my things around, to a hostel, to a shared house in the space of 6 weeks, is amazing. 

I knew I had to do things of my own back to get myself out of this situation, but I could only do that with the help of people like Sonia and Hayley. If it hadn’t been for those two, and of course help from my friends, I just don’t know what would have happened.”

“Now I come down to the Whitechapel Mission twice a week to use the Computer Suite. I can check my emails, change addresses, and do all the things I can’t do on my phone. It’s been a great help. If I didn’t have that kind of support, I don’t know what would have happened. Now I can try and get a job and get back to where I was. Get my life back. 

Losing everything hasn’t been ideal, obviously, but for learning lessons it hasn’t been a bad thing. Part of me feels like I needed to be humble and not forget where I’ve come from. When people earn that kind of money, it does change you. You do become arrogant. That’s probably what happened to me. You feel untouchable. You don’t even consider “what if’s”. 

But it has been a valuable lesson. Not an experience I want to repeat. 

When you are made homeless, and you are on the streets, and you literally have to fight each day to even get food; that’s when you realise how strong you really are. It can be easy to give up and turn to alcohol and drugs. I saw it by Soho Square when I was in my hostel. I walked around on Christmas morning and realised most of the people sleeping rough in that park probably were so drunk they didn’t even realise it was Christmas. That is homeless.”

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