People from Newham tell their stories of homelessness to correct misconceptions
- Credit: Archant
People who are experiencing homelessness in the borough are telling their stories in hope of removing stigmas and correcting misconceptions about their circumstances.
A new online video series being released by Canning Town homelessness charity Caritas Anchor House features some of its residents sharing their stories and experiences.
Launched on World Homeless Day, it was inspired by the recent Newham Talks series hosted by East Ham rapper Kano, which raised more than £10,000 for Caritas Anchor House and other charities in the borough.
Cilla, whose surname has not been published for privacy reasons, features in the firstn episode of the Anchor House Talks series.
She has experienced both homelessness and mental health difficulties, but is now being supported to turn her turn her life around.
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“My marriage broke down, I couldn’t afford the bills and my mental health deteriorated,” she said.
“I was in a managerial position at work but my anxiety stopped me being able to travel.
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“Eventually, I ended up becoming homeless and being referred to Caritas Anchor House.”
Cilla added people should not make assumptions about the causes of homelessness and the circumstances of people who experience it.
“I think it is easy to assume that people who are homeless come from a drug or alcohol abuse background,” she said.
“That can be true, however, everyone has their own story and people can find themselves becoming homeless having come from any walk of life.”
Newham has the highest rate of homelessness in the country.
One in 24 - at least 14,500 people – in the borough are without a home, compared to one in 200 nationally, according to housing and homelessness charity Shelter.
Newham also has the second highest number of people sleeping rough across London.
Caritas House resident Tim, whose surname has also been withheld, became homeless after a nightmare flatmate made living in his home unbearable.
He suffered badly from depression and took an overdose, which led to him being hospitalised for four weeks.
“I came out of hospital, bought a tent and lived there for two years,” Tim said.
“During that time, I did a lot of volunteering - ironically serving breakfast to people who were homeless.”
Tim wanted people to understand that homelessness can happen to anyone.
“People can become homeless for any reason,” he said.
“It is not a personal failing and it is not their fault.
“You are only one pay cheque away from becoming homeless these days.
“We should all be a bit more compassionate”.
The series was launched on Caritas Anchor House’s YouTube channel at noon on Saturday, October 10, which was also World Mental Health Day.
More episodes will be released later this month and throughout November.
Shorter videos of each talk will also be available via the charity’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
By showcasing the stories behind the statistics, Caritas Anchor House hopes to raise awareness of the work it does to support people who have lost their homes.
A spokesperson said: “The ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic means that more people in Newham are now at risk of homelessness due to job losses.
“Caritas Anchor House has already seen an increase in demand for our services, and there are still many people in the borough who need our help.
“That’s why, like Tim, we hope that the videos will encourage viewers to be more compassionate and understand that homelessness could happen to anyone.”
Caritas Anchor House provides accommodation and life skills support for adults experiencing homelessness in the borough.
It has 140 bed spaces and last year supported 287 people to move on from homelessness.
The charity works with vulnerable groups including those affected by unemployment, mental health issues, substance misuse, domestic abuse and offending.
Visit www.youtube.com/user/AnchorHouseCharity to watch Anchor House Talks.
Go to www.facebook.com/caritasanchorhouse/ or www.instagram.com/caritasanchorhouse/ to follow the charity on social media.