“I know there are many people that are homeless for many reasons but I don’t think that I am the only one who went off the rails as they had a traumatised start”
Kim Horton is a reporter here in Gloucestershire and has been a great supporter of Action on ACEs. Kim shared her own personal story on Gloucestershire Live and gave permission for us to share it too. This is a shortened version, you can read the story in full on the Gloucestershire Live website>>
“Homelessness is a tricky subject. We can all ask why is it still happening in this day and age, and we should, but it is happening.
Over 20 years ago I found myself in this homelessness bracket. It was not due to drugs or being kicked out of home, it is because I ran away from a miserable situation that I had been living with for ten years.
Now I find myself as a friend of a homeless charity (and have even been asked to be a trustee) for those who find themselves in impossible situations who are wanting to find a way out. The charity that I am working with is called HaVinG (Homeless and Vulnerable in Gloucester) and it aims to raise cash to support the homeless and vulnerable people in the city.
I fell through the net at just 17 years old. I left home all those years ago with 57p, a pair of pants and a mobile phone and charger, nothing else at 2am one morning and I never went back. I know now looking back that I had a broken development through a traumatised early years start. One minute I had a mother and a father and a brother, the next minute my brother had died, my parents had split and I was pretty much living with my elderly grandmother for a spell and other circumstances meant that life was incredibly difficult.
Saying that my parents had the worst thing imaginable happen to them losing a child. They were also traumatised and just trying to make it through each day. There was also no rule book back then on how to deal with a kid like me either who obviously never coped with the situation for years after.
I then moved to Gloucestershire. It was a sad 10 years after that. The most enjoyable part of my childhood was when I went to Thomas Keble School and found an amazing set of friends and the teachers had my back. Throughout my time at Thomas Keble, I came to realise, and so did my friends, that my childhood was not how it should be. I will not go into detail but it was not like what my friends had. We are not talking the latest fashion and CDs, it was just different. When it was time to leave school I had been working since I could possibly be allowed to get a job. I worked in the local leisure centre the summer after leaving school and in a cafe and went to college the following September. It was not a course that I wanted to do.
This then led to me skiving, going to the pub instead and generally not being at college.
Let’s just say the reaction to my antics was not well received. Yet I didn’t have the situation at home where I could say that I was miserable doing the course. A row seriously erupted and I ran away. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had enough. Years of me playing up and feeling insecure as a child stayed with me throughout my teenage years and well into my 20’s. I was hugely insecure as I had no attachments to anyone. I did not really have anyone around me to care. It’s not that anyone should expect anything from anyone. I just did not quite get why I was so on my own.
I was only homeless for nine months, but they were a long nine months. I initially stayed in a shared house with what I later found was a heroin addict, and a house full of people that had complex issues. I couldn’t stay there so I started sofa surfing. There was one night where I was walking around town at 6pm and it was getting dark and I literally only had the clothes on my back. I nipped into the hairdressers where my mate worked and asked if I could stop at her house for the night, she called her mum and she said yes. Thank goodness for my old school mate. I was already thinking in the back of my mind where I could stay and not be seen that night. That became a frequent occurance.
I house sat for a mate’s mum, for a couple of weeks, that was great and it came to an end, and then I ended up staying at my then boyfriend’s mum and dad’s house. It was not permanent and I had to go. They were absolutely lovely but could not afford to keep me. They helped me get on the council list. I never thought I would be able to have a home but I filled out the forms. Looking back now I was still very much a child. Being 17 years old to me is still a child. I had a few people care about me, but not those who were meant to.
One family member tried to convince me to move back to where I was born. Yet to me there were no attachments there. I had more attachments in the county so I said I would not return. I said to them if they tried to make me move back then I would not be found. That is a child talking. That is a child with a broken development talking. That is someone that is clinging on in the hope that she could have made life work where she had briefly found happiness at school.
Rumours had spread that I ran away because I was a heroin addict, which I wasn’t, so people did not really want to get involved with me, understandably, even though this was utter nonsense. No one had reported me missing or that I had left home. I was lost in the system. Too many kids are lost in the system. After these nine months, I had a wonderful woman at the local council at the time get in touch with me and she said that she had a flat to offer me.
I was blown away and in disbelief. I was still only 17 years old and she met me at the flat to show me around.
I remember her saying to me that she needed someone to ensure that I paid my rent for the next few months until I turned 18 years old. I did that.
She also told me that she wanted me to make sure that I did make something of myself one day and to not let one year define me. At that point I was going to try and get into nursing and she said to me that she expected me to do just that.
Now I am a reporter for Gloucester instead. It took years for me to come right. This long path of children growing into adults functioning well happens more than it should. Prevention and help can be put in place.
I know there are many people that are homeless for many reasons but I don’t think that I am the only one who went off the rails as they had a traumatised start. If I had the correct support in place and responsible adults had known what action to take, I would not have been in the position that I was in for that length of time. I may have been able to come to terms with what had happened sooner. It is all good now, it just took a while. Life is for living, not just existing.
This story first appeared on Gloucestershire Live and has been shared with Kim’s permission. View the original story here >>
Find out more about Kim’s challenge for charity here>>