Mercedes’ story

David MacGregor Service user stories

I was evicted in October 2014 because the owner sold the place I was living in. I couldn’t find a new place that would accept Housing Benefit and then I was given temporary accommodation for two months. I ended up out on the street in November – it was cold and horrible.

I went to hospital because of the stress but when they found out I was homeless they wouldn’t let me stay.  I found out about the 999 Club’s winter night shelter through Deptford Reach. I stayed there for three months and got help from Alison, the Senior Advice and Support Worker. Alison referred me to Louisa, the Homeless Support Team Manager and Louisa referred me to Housing Justice and then Hope World Wide found me a place to live – after 7 months of being homeless. I’m grateful to Alison and I still go back to say thank you. Everyone who gets to know Alison is very pleased with her work. She advised me and accompanied me even though she has just a little bit of time. She made time for me as I didn’t want to go alone. She was my advocate. Louisa also accompanied me to my PIP interview and did her best to advise me for it.

I remember the time I spent without a home was very hard and frightening. Being homeless was the difficult part. I’d never slept on the street before. I slept on bin bags in the park in Deptford. Sometimes I had to wrap up so that no one could tell I was a woman as it’s so dangerous. Sometimes I would sit all night on the night bus, or go to 24 hour shops like Tesco as I was so scared to be a woman alone in the park. One night I was attacked with my friend, who ended up with 21 stitches in his head as he protected me from harm. This man was on a bench and when we got near him I made sure not to look at him in the eye, as it intimidates people. He had a hammer or an iron bar in a plastic bag and he started hitting my friend. I was just standing there screaming. I came to the 999 Club the next day and told some staff people and got interviewed by the Police. Unfortunately, because I’d avoided eye contact with the man out of fear, and the CCTV camera was not working, the case was dropped.

I am very pleased with the help the 999 Club gave me. If I can help or give back, I want to. They’ve done their best to help me. I have a place, I’m off the streets, that’s the important thing.  Even though my experience was really hard, I’m sure it can help others.