A House Is A Home

A House Is A Home

A tumultuous cocktail of emotions spread through my veins like wildfire as I sat in the housing office, staring obsessively at the entirety of belongings at my feet. A rucksack full of clothes, a couple of books, my chef knives. It was all I had left. I no longer had a home.

Before I was homeless, I was spoiled. I had the ability to take a long, hot bath. I could escape to the comfort of my own double bed with my own quirky bed-sheets. When I was homeless, these simple things were no longer simple. In the homeless unit, there were no baths or double beds. These seemingly mundane things somehow became luxuries that I craved – I wanted more than anything to soak up in a bath or to retreat to a bed I could call my own. I wanted more than anything to go a day without being checked up on. I became so grateful for the things I did have when the things I didn’t have anymore were lost. I was lucky enough to have a bed, to have a roof over my head. The desire for the things that I’d lost lingered in my mind, but I had everything I needed. 

The difference between having your own home and being homeless is that when you have your own place, you can afford to take these seemingly mundane things for granted. A bath isn’t a big deal, you can do that whenever you want. Your own bed is a given, and your privacy is yours whenever you want it. When you’re homeless, these things are stripped away from you. You start to realise how much you’ve taken for granted because you could afford to. When you’re homeless, everything is a luxury you’re appreciative of, because anything is better than sleeping rough.

I don’t think many people will truly understand what it’s like to be homeless unless it has happened to them. I mean, if you try hard enough, you can probably imagine how stressful it can be, how anxious it makes you not knowing whether you’ll be eligible for temporary housing. What you probably won’t be able to understand is the sheer loss and grief over things that you get to indulge in everyday feels or the overwhelming mind-body-soul consumption of complete failure.

 

 

a house is a home

 

 

I remember scoffing at a social media campaign claiming ‘homelessness could happen to anyone’. I scrolled past the post, blissfully ignorant, thinking to myself that people only end up homeless as a result of their own actions. Of course, this can be true and is probably true in my circumstance, but it genuinely can happen to anyone regardless of fault. Homeless doesn’t automatically mean ‘hobo’. It also doesn’t automatically mean uneducated, drug/alcohol dependent or begging on the side of the street. It can happen to people who slave away to keep their business afloat, to people who come home to find their house destroyed by fire or flood, or those who have been thrown out due to family or relationship breakdown. 

We all know homelessness is a huge problem in the UK, but the statistics are just that – statistics. We never really consider the fact that numbers are real people. In that way, it’s easy to separate ourselves from the problem. We never really truly come face to face with those figures, so we will never understand the gravity of them either. 

 

  • There were 17,797 applications for homelessness in Scotland assistance between April and September 2017. 

  • There were 6,581 young people in temporary accommodation on 30 September 2017, an increase of 594 (+10%) compared to 30 September 2016.

  • Every 19 minutes a household becomes homeless in Scotland

  • In one year there has been a 10% increase in rough sleeping

 

Homelessness isn’t a problem that will go away anytime soon and is far from fixed. Local councils provide an array of support systems, but still it is not enough. There are thousands sleeping rough, and thousands of people in temporary accommodation, waiting to have a house to call their home. Sign up to Shelter Scotland’s latest campaign for updates and advice on how you can help tackle this issue.

It might be easy to say the solution to homelessness is employment, but in reality, it’s not as easy as you think. The cost of temporary housing is absolutely astronomical – for a bedsit in a youth project, mines was £257 per week. If I was working, I would not have been able to sustain the cost of rent, and if I was able to, there would be no money left over to save for a deposit for a private let. You lose all of your benefits as soon as you start working, and when you’re homeless, you need all the support you can get. You need housing benefit to cover the costs of your accommodation while you find your feet. You need income support to allow you to pay for your council tax, your food and your electricity. All of these things still need paying for whether you’re living in your own home or a temporary one. 

When I was homeless, I thought it was the end. I felt so lost, so alone and completely angry at the world around me. I had been so depressed prior to losing my home that I lost control of my finances, I lost my job and I became a social recluse. I didn’t leave my house for 2 months. I often ask myself why I let myself spiral so out of control but realistically, I’m glad I became homeless in a weird roundabout way. It’s made me appreciate things I never appreciated before. It’s made me value what really matters in life. I am so extremely grateful for the beautiful house I live in with my partner. Becoming homeless has made me expect the unexpected – never in a million years did I think I’d end up in that situation. But I did, and I am grateful for the lessons it taught me and the person it has made me. 

 

 

 

 

 

 



13 thoughts on “A House Is A Home”

  • When I see people on the street who need my help I will always do my best to help them. I often give them money if they need it. I don’t agree with this whole idea of not giving them money. If it were any of us on the street we would want someone to help us. Also the same people who say you shouldn’t give them money have no problem giving money to charity where some person at the top is getting paid 6 figures and cashes in.

  • I was homeless when I was 16 and I remember the tireless struggle of sitting in the homeless unit hoping for some help. For two years I was in temporary accommodation, I finally got my own home 12 years ago and it is a luxury I shall never take for granted x

    • It is exactly that – a tireless struggle. I was in temporary accommodation for 5 months before moving in with my boyfriend

  • What a very heartfelt and emotional journe6 you have been on. I couldn’t imagine what it could be like to not have a roof over your head and to have that fear of not knowing when you could feel safe. The price for a bedsit does seem very high especially for someone who may struggle with finances and we as a society should do more to help the number of homeless people on the streets and look at investment in housing for them.

  • You really have been through such a tough time and while I have been on the verge of homelessness I have never been on the streets. You are right in saying that when things are taken away from us that we appreciate the things we had lost that we might have taken for granted before. I used to give money to any homeless person that I saw but since I have no money now, If I have food with me I will try and give them a bite to eat as I know that at least some food will help them out a little bit.

  • Such a meaningful post. We work with a homeless charity at work and when I hear the stories it makes my heart sink. Really make you appreciate what you have.

  • When I was sitting applying for a housing application, I could count everything I had on my hands, and all I was thinking was what next, you covered each point clearly but what I think you missed is when the “what next ?” Hits you. Since then Im back home even though it gets worse and worse, atleast it keeps me up on my feet and keeps me going until I find something, I already have a back up plan where I don’t need to rely on anyone else and so far putting this plan in place is following through, since being homeless whenever I see a homeless person I help in anyway I can, I might not have money so I offered advice, something more valuable than money in its own way.

  • I am really sorry that you have been through such a rough patch. I never experienced any situation like this but can’t ignore the reality that it can happen to anyone, anytime. it is a daunting experience though. We need to get together as a community and create a support system where homeless people can get some help without any hesitation.

  • You have been through such a hard time and it must have been really frightening . You are totally right in saying we often take the little daily things that we do such as a comfy bed or a hot bath as granted. For those who don’t have this luxury must be so very hard. You are very strong to have dealt with this.

  • It breaks my heart seeing homeless on the streets. There are so many abandoned buildings, houses and more – that have MORE than enough space to accommodate those in need of shelter!

  • It’s heartbreaking how many people are homeless nowadays but I have to admit, I have seen a LOT of people trying to help those in need! It’s hard but we all just need to be thoughtful x

  • I absolutely love your attitude towards harsh times, they make us appreciate the good and evolve us into a better person!

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