People experiencing homelessness in Liverpool share their stories

Five people on loss, trauma and housing insecurity

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Big Life Liverpool works with people experiencing homelessness and marginalisation in Merseyside. Five anonymous participants discussed their experiences.

Person A (aged 28)

I have been homeless for over three years. You don’t choose to become homeless. You can get off the streets for a short while, but it offers no security or guarantee. There is very little or limited choices available. Every case of homelessness is different, but no cases seem to be based on merits.

Sometimes the options may not be the best. Whatever is offered, it is hard to sustain yourself. I have learnt more about life in last three years, and to me, this is why God has made me homeless.

You cannot do it forever. It has become the reality of our society that people now have to maintain it. I will probably be outside this winter. I can try to get help, but I then feel that my freedom is taken away and I must answer every question that is asked.

Anything can cause someone to become homeless. You can become invisible to society, and sometimes that can be the best thing, so people leave you alone.

Person B (aged 56)

I walked the streets for over two years through no fault of my own. Being homeless exaggerated my drug use. I went to the Whitechapel centre made peoples drug habit chaotic. They preyed around there and would sell outside.

I was made homeless due to having a breakdown following my partner passing away. Due to the tenancy being in my partner’s name, the housing association refused to transfer the tenancy to me, even though children were living there, so we were evicted. I had to place my children with family members, but there was no room for me.

I was sofa surfing, which then causes issues and friction, so I ended up sleeping around Bold Street. It took me over three years to get out of the cycle and system.

Because I was not already on the housing pool, because I had been living with my partner, it was near impossible to get registered. These days, social housing is now selling to private landlords who will either sell them on for a profit or charging extortionate rents.

Even when you get housed, the stigma never leaves you. You lose your family, values, and self-esteem. The system leaves you with a sense of abandonment.  When you are homeless, trying to find somewhere to sleep is a struggle. I have been abused, assaulted, and urinated on frequently.

Person C (aged 62)

I was made homeless as my landlord decided to sell the flat I was living in. Salvation Army was always full, so I often had to sleep in doorways and alleyways. The barriers to get benefits always demonises people experiencing homelessness.

All the stress of homelessness caused a circle of depression and medical issues. The mental scars do not disappear ever. I got to the stage of becoming reliant on drinking just to block out life and the anxiety. Being a single male gave me little priority. Being homeless and begging are two separate things, yet they are deemed the same thing.

I think that the number of people experiencing homelessness is up due to services being unable to cope due to lack of resources and infrastructure. Too many people become reliant on the goodwill of charities and the public, with the government happy to let this continue as it means they do not have to pay.

Person D (aged 57)

I was made homeless due to toxic environments. You ask for help, but all you get is authorities and judgemental figures, so ultimately that pushed me away from having to deal with them. You are coerced into silence.

Due to personal and family underlying issues that I have experienced, I often felt like things were swept under the carpet. It is a poor welfare system where you feel like you or your family don’t count. I have a disabled child as well, who is autistic and has Down’s syndrome. The stress led me to drink and drugs.

This is not a lifestyle choice. I was made homeless due to my daughter going into a compulsory community care order. I feel that the war on homelessness was create purely to feed the appetite of Daily Mail readers. They class you as worthy of social annihilation. Community = connection = meaningful work.

Person E (aged 61)

The comments that the government has made is awful. The UK government imply that there is help available, but those who are homeless do not want or seek that help. Homelessness affects mental health, which then impacts and burdens the NHS and mental health organisations.

It is disgusting that they believe that all people experiencing homelessness are drug users and “benefit scroungers” and just want people to feel sorry for them so that they can jump the queue for a house. People who believe the news need to come to our hub for a week to see how it is in reality.

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