Below is a personal story from Bianca, a St Mungo’s client, about her experiences of homelessness. If you would like to read more first person accounts of how we have helped support people to live independent lives again, please follow the link.
‘Before St Mungo’s, I had nowhere to stay,’ explains Bianca, a 28-year-old resident of one of our East London hostels. “What’s changed for me is that I have my own place, it gives you confidence for the future to know there are people around who care and will support you.’
Originally from London, Bianca spent ten years of her childhood in care. ‘My own parents were addicted to crack, it was a bad environment. I have a six-year-old son, he’s not with me at the moment but I hope he will be in the future. I’m being kept updated on how he’s doing; he’s still part of my life.
‘I know how much parents can be a bad influence on their own children from my own life. I’m wary of repeating cycles; I’d never want my son to be around drugs or alcohol because that’s what I grew up around.’
Bianca became a St Mungo’s resident in 2012. At first she was referred into one of our women-only hostels, but as she regained her skills and confidence she moved into a her self-contained flat within one of our hostels. She describes the help she has received since moving in as ‘lifesaving, it’s really changed me because when people around you believe in you, you believe in yourself more.’
Bianca became homeless after experiencing domestic violence. ‘I ran away because the guy I was with kept beating me, I’ve still got the marks to prove it. It was a terrible situation to be in, in the end I had to get out.’
Since moving to St Mungo’s, she has become involved in a variety of hostel activities, including getting online, receiving support for her dyslexia, and taking part in cookery classes. She is also being helped to tackle her drinking, something she says will be ‘vital’ to her being reunited with her son again.
‘One day I’d like to get my own place somewhere on the outskirts of town for me and my son’ she says. ‘I’d like to train to be a youth worker and help people who have been through similar situations to me; I think homeless people are more likely to listen to someone who’s been through the same experiences – they’re living proof you can overcome your problems.
‘I’ve been in prison a couple of times; they’re scary places to be. Nobody would want to be there, despite what you might hear. If anyone can be helped to not choose crime, then that’s a good thing.’
As well as being with her son again and training to be a youth worker, Bianca says she has also set herself the goal of recording a song. ‘My special talent is that I can sing,’ she explains. ‘It’s mostly soul and R&B that I’m into. Once I’ve summoned up the courage, I’d like to use one of the recording studios at St Mungo’s to do my own thing. It would take a lot of courage but it would be an amazing thing to do.
‘I’ve been through a lot of bad experiences, but St Mungo’s have helped me overcome those. I’m positive about the future again; I’ve got my whole life ahead of me.’