After going through the emotional trauma of losing the right to care for her children, 33-year old mum of four Hayley became homeless.
Hayley had a chaotic upbringing and went on to suffer in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship in her early twenties. She met someone new and started a family with him, but despite their loving relationship, the deep trauma she had experienced in previous years played out in aggressive and angry behaviour, and a reliance on drugs that she couldn’t seem to break out of. Hayley eventually got in trouble with the police and was removed from the home environment, leaving her partner with sole custody of their children.
Hitting rock bottom
“At this point, I was homeless and had nowhere to go. The council said it wasn’t a priority to house me,” explained Hayley. Where she could, she spent the night in local churches through the ‘Bed for The Night’ initiative and spent the rest of the time sleeping in her car, and doing what she could to get by. “I would use my partner’s leisure centre membership to go the swimming pool just so I could have a shower. I did that every day for three and a half months,” said Hayley.
Hayley remained in a relationship with her partner, and saw him and their children via a contact centre. But the weight of the situation, and the fact that she was also estranged from her Mum and had no support network to be able to lean on, meant her mental health and issues with anger continued to worsen. “I think because so much was taken from me all in one go, I found it really hard to adjust. I would easily kick off and create a lot of problems for myself. One day I was seeing my kids in the contact centre and something didn’t quite go as I’d planned, and they had to remove me from the building because I was that angry. I was shouting and abusing the staff, and for me to do that, it wasn’t good.” explained Hayley.
Hayley was introduced to Launchpad through the organisation St Mungos, who found her sleeping in her car at the back of the Salvation Army and alerted the Launchpad team. “I didn’t know anything about the charity or what you do,” she explains. “But when I had my first meeting I was so ashamed of myself and how I got into such a bad situation. I’d lost my children and didn’t have anything to live for – I was in a really bad place. Not that I would do anything suicidal, but I had those thoughts all the time. Like I’m useless, you know, and it was through my own actions that I was going through what I did.”
Four weeks after being referred, Hayley was given a room in one of Launchpad’s shared houses and allocated a support worker, Amanda, who put together a personalised support plan. They met each week to address Hayley’s needs – including her mental health, addiction and the management of her benefits – all with the aim of getting her back on her feet and living independently.
“I would go down to the office within the block that we lived in to meet her or she’d come up to the flat, and we always kept in contact by text or phone.” Hayley said. “Every time I had a problem Amanda would pick up the pieces and help me with my anger, and all the other things I needed to sort. She’s very practical too. She filled out council tax forms for me, helped me set up my Universal Credit and applied to charities for funding for me.”
Getting back on track
After two years of support, Hayley felt like her life was getting back on track. She had learned to manage her anger and was no longer using drugs – and she was determined to move on and manage her own tenancy. Hayley worked with Amanda to find a long-term home, something she never thought she’d be able to get. “Amanda helped me complete all the paperwork and make the bids for houses. It took so much weight off my shoulders because it’s a complicated process. And I was lucky enough to get a place,” Hayley explains. “I’ve lost so much over the years and I got this opportunity to start all over again – it’s fantastic. And my partner has helped me do the place up.”
Hayley now has more access to her children and although they don’t yet live together as a family unit, she is able to see them as often as she likes. “My children are what I get up for – just the thought of seeing them every day,” said Hayley.
When asked how she feels about her life now, Hayley explained: “In the past there have been days where I feel like giving up but I’m no longer in that head space, which is quite nice. If I have to live in my car again, I know I can do it. I’m not saying that I’d do anything to put myself back there! But I know that I’ve been through it all and I’ve come out the other side. I know I can move forward and Launchpad has given me back some confidence. Now I can see the light.”
Hayley is still in her long-term home, she is looking at getting a job, and no longer needs Launchpad’s support. “Launchpad gave me a home for two years and I’m just one person of many they’ve helped, and that’s amazing. That’s why I try and tell Amanda, and everyone that’s been involved, that I really do appreciate everything they’ve done – they’ve been there basically 1000 percent. I couldn’t have done it without them.” explains Hayley.