There is a stigma that often follows homeless people — a disgrace and label associated with their unfortunate circumstances.
Too often, homeless people are labelled as addicts and alcoholics, but this is not always the case.
The story we are about to share with you – Charlotte’s story; highlights this misperception and also serves as a warning to us that it doesn’t matter what background you have come from or how much you own, a shift in your circumstances can turn your life upside down.
My story is quite an unusual one as I am not what most people without a home are expected to be. I have a degree, I come from an affluent well-adjusted family, I have no addictions, I have never smoked I am healthy and well adjusted. I have always worked and been well paid but like a lot of my generation, I don’t save for a rainy day as you never think the rainy day will happen to you!
I had a very good job and so does my soon to be ex-husband we have a lovely house in an expensive area and two nice cars. My husband, however, is bi-polar and he quite often comes off his medication as he feels ok! He also suffers for the terrible ups and then huge downs that come with this illness he walks out jobs he has dreadful mood swings and he is verbally abusive and spiteful when on a downward spiral, I had coped with this for as long as I could but quite often being the sole breadwinner is difficult when you have a large mortgage and two cars to pay for.
Anyway, I got made redundant from my job decided to sell my car and go travelling for 8 months to give him time to sort himself and for me to have a break as I had been ill also.
When I came back things were no better and my husband was starting to become violent too so I left I was scared of what he may do. I rented an apartment got another job and wanted the house put on the market, my husband won’t put the house on the market, won’t engage with respects to divorce and claims mental health problems when we try to sort it so it’s dragging on.
I was made redundant from my job last year in December and my private landlords asked me to move out as they didn’t want me there if I was not working – even though I got a temp job pretty much straight away. The council couldn’t help me they told me to go home to my violent husband. I spent a couple of nights at the women’s shelter which as you can imagine was quite a shock for me. I then ended up with bronchitis as I wasn’t used to wandering around the streets after I finished work until 10 pm at night when you are allowed in the shelter, I also couldn’t get any rest there as you had to be up at 6.30am every day and leave by 8 am which is okay when you are working but not a weekends.
Spring of Hope phoned Jasper as I wasn’t fit for work as I was temping and off for a while due to ill health they had to get someone else in after two weeks to do my job but I really was dreadfully ill at this time.
I got to the bus Jasper had asked Rob their site manager to make sure that the bus was warm, that there were a hot water bottle and a big thick dressing gown waiting for me and some hot food and drink. I was able to stay on the bus during the day get well, keep warm and was looked after by everyone, Rob is a wonderful cook and we get lovely food, there is tea, coffee, milk – Jasper/Rob got me some pain relief for my cold, tissues and anything else I needed.
When I started to feel better whilst looking for full-time work I helped out in the office at HBH and I saw at firsthand how dedicated and hardworking Jasper, his wife and all the volunteers and residents of the community at Malago Road are. Nothing is too much trouble for them, they care about us and look after us, we have a warm safe place to stay, with good food. I am in a lucky position that I now have another full-time job and as I don’t have any other medical needs to stop me from moving on that I can now find somewhere to rent again until I can force my husband to cooperate with splitting our assets.
Not so many other people are as fortunate, however they are fortunate if they end up with Jasper and the team as they are committed to what they do, work tirelessly to help the homeless help themselves and I know that if I had to stay in the women’s night shelter which whilst brilliant is, unfortunately, another place that is bearing the brunt of austerity as there are too many people with diverse needs under one roof there and I would have found it hard to have kept my job if I was going not being able to get in have a shower eat and relax until after 10 pm every night.
The bus provides us with a common room where we can watch TV, there is a DVD player so you can watch a film if you want, there are books to read and board games, it is a real and active caring community where people are looked after and can go at their own pace to get themselves back into a home, work or help with any problems.
What Jasper has done in such a short time is amazing and I for one am truly grateful to him and the whole HBH Community for helping me to get back on my feet. I will not end my association with them I will go on to fundraise for them I wish there were more people like Jasper we all have the idea and we all give to charity but how many of us have the get-up and go and gumption to pull off this kind of project.
Thank you, Jasper, from the bottom of my heart.