Age 15, after a year of having no home, and searching desperately, with all the adverts saying NO DSS, or unwilling to accept people without a reference/ASBO, my family found a slumlord who would take us on. I don’t call him that as a cus, he was serving a social function that no one else would, housing the other. We got a 2 up 2 down house in Awsworth for four kids and my mum. My dad couldn’t live there because he was on tag, he was also getting out of control with drugs and becoming unreliable. He had to hide his addiction because if they found out he would have to go back inside. I slept under the stairs. The garden was full of needles and the door kicked open. I never had a key. The supermarket was too far for us to get to without a car, so we lived off corner shop food. The street was all of the same kind of people, poor single parents on the last chance, in a village surrounded by middle class people with nice pets, children and cars. The last bus was at 6pm and so I spent many nights walking miles and miles to friends or a nearer bus stop. I got lost a fair few times in the fields because I had no maps, no phone, no internet and no idea about where things were in relation to each other. This was when my mental health was the worst in my life. Arguably being far away from your support network is more damaging than having no house. In a short space of time, I was arrested, tried to kill myself and after sleeping outside in the winter, I was eventually hospitalised. Antibiotics and saline would fix my body but not my situation. After a year we proved ourselves to the landlord and we were allowed to have a bigger house in an area nearer to my school, friends and shops. Just in time to start my last round of GCSE exams. I remember sitting on the floor in my new room and looking at the biology revision book. I read page one, and thought fuck this.

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