From homeless to hopeful
After a row with her father left her out on the streets, Charlette had to take her future into her own hands. Here she describes how she got her life back on track.
In 2002 my Dad went to prison. When he came out a year later we had a big argument and he chucked me out of our home. I had a job but was only earning around £150 a week.
Luckily I had a friend who let me stay with her for a while and then I found a hostel - it's so much of a blur I can't even remember how I found the hostel - but it felt too far away from home so I soon moved.
I did try to turn to the council for help. I still don't understand why, but they threw me off their housing lists three times. They didn't really help me at all.
The only family I had was my Uncle. He did his best to help me, but after 12 months of homelessness I eventually found myself a more permanent place in another hostel.
"As soon as I started the course I knew what I wanted. For the first time I had a career goal."
Hostel life isn't very good and while I was happy to have a roof over my head there wasn't a lot of freedom. It's not like you only have to share your space with one person. You have to share it with lots of people, and that means you hardly get any room to yourself, or privacy. It's also difficult because the staff question what you've been doing and you constantly have to report back.
Turning my life around
The homeless charity Crisis helped me a lot. I started an IT course with them as part of its Learning Zone programme. As soon as I started the course I knew what I wanted to do, and for the first time I had a career goal. I decided I wanted to work in administration, so Crisis organised three month's voluntary work in administration and HR for me. If I had the chance to do things differently I would have found Crisis sooner.
From the age of 15 I have worked and earned money rather than worked towards my goals. I didn't really know what I wanted to do when I was younger, and I have changed my mind so many times.
If I had to advise anyone else in a similar situation I would say to be strong and just keep on going. Whatever happens there are always people out there to help you and you shouldn't feel that you're alone.
Now I can look to the future. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm doing a business administration course, work experience and I'm waiting to be moved on from the hostel I'm in. I'm getting there, in the end.