Odd socks line the floor and plants sit perched on a narrow window sill. A 19 year old girl sits hunched over a desk in her new university room. This is an image mirrored by thousands across the country, but Georgia’s experience of living away from home is remarkably different from her peers. Here is someone who has received help from a grassroots homeless charity first hand.
After being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, she was living in a bad relationship with her parents, “it was all up in the air”. When both her parents decided to move out of London, Georgia was given the choice to stay in her home of London and receive specialist therapy or moving out of the area and continue living in an unhealthy situation, she chose to invest in the long term help. But removing her parents from the situation meant navigating London’s merciless housing situation on her own.
“I basically had to declare myself homeless in hopes that I’d be able to get affordable housing and pay rent for a flat”.
During this time Georgia left the hospital to seek help from the council. They put her on hold, further compromising her mental health. After being misinformed by an employee, she was told to get a medical assessment form. Under instruction, Georgia returned to the hospital to get her form signed. Instead she was given further damning news, being flippantly informed that, “your bed has gone, it’s the NHS babes.”
Georgia spent days in a B&B under the strict gaze of an non-empathetic older woman. “I just cried, ‘what the hell? It isn’t my fault, I didn’t ask to be here’.” To her relief, Georgia soon received the news of space in a hostel for vulnerable people. “It was just five minutes away from where I used to live, which was weird.”
Following advice from her step mum, she decided to pick up the phone and call Shelter, a housing advice service. They equipped her with knowledge of her rights, and supported her through her difficult interactions with the council. Shelter were concerned that they had told her to obtain a medical assessment form, arguing this was an unnecessary process in Georgia’s case. “It sounds like they were just trying to send you away because it was the end of the day.”
The failings of the council were combatted by Shelter’s compassion and experience, “they were just a support line… it was really nice to have someone care.”
Armed with a new sense of hope and settled into University, Georgia is optimistic about the future. She hopes her studies will lead her into a career in clinical psychology, where she can help others who have been in a similar situation and make a difference to their wellbeing.
Shelter are a housing advice service that offer face-to-face help, online advice, legal support as well as a national helpline. They support people with issues such as homelessness, eviction, private renting and housing benefit.
For help or more information, visit https://england.shelter.org.uk/