“I was totally shocked at how lovely it is here! I feel safe, trusted and have enjoyed every single minute. I feel like part of a big family!”

When Claire* moved into the Nightshelter in May 2018, she felt very differently about the prospect of staying at a homeless shelter. “I was really apprehensive, as I didn’t know what to expect – my first thought was a huge room with beds on the floor, that were given out on a first come first served basis. You give your £2 on the door and the bed is yours for a night. I didn’t even think you got a meal when you came in. I couldn’t believe how different it was in reality.”

After a series of traumatic life events – the death of a close friend and the deterioration of several family relationships – Claire got behind on her rent and was evicted from her flat. “On the day I was evicted, I ended up sat outside my flat on my mattress, with all my belongings, and it was only then that it really began to sink in that I was homeless. I really didn’t know where I would end up next.” Claire went to the local council who assessed her situation and referred her into the Nightshelter.

Fast forward four months and Claire’s confidence levels and self-esteem have dramatically improved, she says, thanks to the support services provided by the Nightshelter. “When I was offered counselling, I wasn’t sure, as I’ve tried it in the past and it didn’t really work for me. But the Nightshelter’s counsellor, Lorraine, was so amazing. She has helped me understand why I am the way I am, and why I do certain things. Before I came to the Nightshelter I didn’t realise that I had any problems that needed addressing – I’d been coping on my own for so long. That’s why becoming homeless has been such a big shock, because your independence fails you. Counselling has helped me to work out the issues that I need to deal with.”

She added “I didn’t realise the full extent of what the Nightshelter could do for me. I’ve also taken part in Wellbeing and Coping Skills sessions, which were so relevant to my experience, and helped me identify my issues and become more aware of my surroundings and the way I feel about myself. Plus I’ve tried cookery workshops, and a new music session the Nightshelter is running. Now that I’m here, I can see that it’s up to me to improve my life and take advantage of the opportunities on offer.”

Claire is about to move into one of the Nightshelter’s two move on properties. When she is settled, she hopes to enrol in college and do something completely different with her life. “I feel like this is a fresh start for me. A chance for something completely new” she says. “I’m looking forward to the future now, I want to better myself. I feel calmer, happier and a very, very positive for my next step. It’s been an emotional time for me, but I’ve never felt this supported before in my life.”

*names have been changed

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