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AMA

I was homeless at 16 yo AMA

23 replies

feelingpantstoday · 23/11/2021 11:27

Just that, not something that seems significant to me as I didn't know any different but when people find out they are shocked.

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GaiusHelenMohiam · 23/11/2021 11:30

Me too!

Were you sofa surfing, sleeping rough or a bit of both? I was a bit of both, and it was for about three years, some horrible things happened and although it was twenty five years ago and I’m very settled now with a family and a good job (and a very lovely house) I still feel like everything is temporary.

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AgedVellum · 23/11/2021 11:32

How did it happen, @feelingpantstoday? Were you street-sleeping?

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feelingpantstoday · 23/11/2021 11:37

@GaiusHelenMohiam

Me too!

Were you sofa surfing, sleeping rough or a bit of both? I was a bit of both, and it was for about three years, some horrible things happened and although it was twenty five years ago and I’m very settled now with a family and a good job (and a very lovely house) I still feel like everything is temporary.

Hey Gaius,

I had £300 so set off traveling and returned to the UK 5 years later.

Arriving in the 1st county I slept on a bench but soon met people on Gap years who pointed me in the right direction for accommodation and casual work.

Pleased it all worked out for you, I get that feeling but enjoy your achievements Flowers
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feelingpantstoday · 23/11/2021 11:41

Hi AgedVellum

My mum was chaotic, moved to a different continent and left me to live with Grandparents who had to go into 55+ sheltered housing so I was no longer able to live with them.

I slept a lot on busses and trains, only the one night on a bench thankfully

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CrumpleHornedSnowcack · 23/11/2021 11:49

Did you make any significant friendships during your homeless time?

How did you get money to eat ?

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feelingpantstoday · 23/11/2021 11:57

CrumpleHornedSnowcack

I made several friends in countries I spent longer periods of time in. Some just friends now on social media where you like their posts, others we exchange emails a few times a year and I keep up to date with what's going on with them. Some are from the countries I visited, others were GAP year students from Australian and from the USA.

I worked cash in hand mainly waitressing, by the time I was 19 bar work and seasonal tour guide / rep work.

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Ubiquery · 23/11/2021 22:07

What survival strategies did you develop?

What advice would you give to someone who found themselves on the street tomorrow?

What’s your life like now?

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feelingpantstoday · 24/11/2021 08:40

Morning Ubiquery Brew great questions..

What survival strategies did you develop?

At 16 I thought I knew everything (as teens do) and as I got older I thought I was just lucky to go through it relatively safely. Through counseling in later life it appears for self preservation I feel safer and relaxed around big strong men.

I don't have many female friends, I question peoples motives. I also have a habit of hiding a few hundred pound around the house.

What advice would you give to someone who found themselves on the street tomorrow?

I can only speak from my experience of a 16 year old. I had no drug or alcohol issues which massively impacts on outcomes. But for someone in a similar situation;

1- Be careful walking at night alone
2 - You can get a day ticket in some European countries and sleep on a night bus cheaper than a hotel.
3. Discipline - Get up and hand wash those clothes, find a days work, plan when you move on.
4. Working in a restaurant for just a meal is better than nothing

What’s your life like now?

My life is good .

Despite A's at GCSE I never picked up further education which I regret. I have 1 child a house almost paid for an OK job and am married.

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AgedVellum · 24/11/2021 12:32

Thanks for replying, @feelingpantstoday. So, were you only homeless abroad, or also in the UK?

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feelingpantstoday · 24/11/2021 12:56

@AgedVellum

Thanks for replying, *@feelingpantstoday*. So, were you only homeless abroad, or also in the UK?

When it was clear I had no where to live in the UK, the only solution offered to me by the local authority was going into a hostel and when I visited it..... I'm sorry if this sound bad but there was evidence of soliciting and drug use, it felt very unsafe.

I had friend's who were older who were going traveling although my £300 would not stretch to their destinations so I stayed with Grandparents until the day the keys were handed back. So no not homeless in the UK. Writing this down is making me realise I made myself homeless as it seemed safer than a hostel ..... I'd never looked at it that way. Shock

I got a Ferry to Holland and in order

1 Holland
2 Germany
3 Austria
4 Hungary
5 Czechoslovakia
6 Italy
7 Albania
8 Macedonia
9 Greece
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AgedVellum · 24/11/2021 13:00

I'm not surprised by the hostel, though it's terrible you felt you had no option but to leave the country or stay somewhere unsafe. Did you speak any of the relevant languages of the countries you lived in? I was just wondering about the practicalities of picking up even casual work without any. Where was the best place for someone in your circumstances?

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feelingpantstoday · 24/11/2021 13:27

AgedVellum

I had no language stills but made an effort to learn the basics which was always appreciated. The work I picked up was mainly in tourist areas where hotel and café owners spoke English, if not I'd have been stuffed. People are kind and even if they didn't speak English they'd point at the menu and they also loved learning strange English terms such as "creepy crawly"! I still understand a fair bit of Italian and Greek.

I had a lot of fun also it wasn't all a struggle I have some great memories and "street smarts" . I'm pleased I did that rather than the alternative, although when my child is the same age I'd be horrified for them to set off alone. Its very hypocritical.

Off season in winter more popular destinations you needed to speak much more of the language, on some of the holiday island destinations seasonal workers leave (90% in some areas) so you cant count on other people's English to get you through.

The best place and easiest place to find work for me was Santorini and Paros in the Cyclades.

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Ubiquery · 24/11/2021 13:55

So it’s more that you went travelling around Europe at 16 than you were homeless [in England] at 16?

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waltzingparrot · 24/11/2021 14:02

How did you cope with periods?

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feelingpantstoday · 25/11/2021 08:10

@waltzingparrot

How did you cope with periods?

Hi parrot,

At first I spaced out the pill to stop by periods completely and in some countries you could buy the contraceptive pill without having a Dr, when I could afford sanitary products I did.

Sometimes tissue from a public loo down the knickers Blush
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feelingpantstoday · 25/11/2021 08:23

@waltzingparrot

How did you cope with periods?

Morning parrot

I can see how it can be viewed like that however I certainly "felt" homeless and very difficult for the 1st 3 years. I had no home to return to in the UK or elsewhere unlike the others I met along the way. So no Dr, No bank Account and no possessions. I had many nights in shelters for rough sleepers, you have to leave early in the morning and there is no guarantee that they will have space the following day so you sleep on public transport as it feels safer.

*Homelessness is lacking stable and appropriate housing. People can be categorized as homeless if they are: living on the streets; moving between temporary shelters, including houses of friends, family and emergency accommodation; living in private boarding houses without a private bathroom or security of tenure.*
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feelingpantstoday · 25/11/2021 08:25

sorry parrot that post was replying to Ubiquery Brew

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Tomeeornottomee · 25/11/2021 08:48

I left home at 16 too. I literally jumped out of a window and never went back. Luckily I was never street sleeping as it was the start of winter, so for about a month I sofa surfed. About a fortnight before Christmas my friends mum took me down to the local council office and helped me get a place in a hostel that eventually helped me get a place of my own, as well as helping to understand forms, bills and general living knowledge that most teenagers don’t have to worry about. I was lucky.

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PAFMO · 25/11/2021 08:55

@Ubiquery

So it’s more that you went travelling around Europe at 16 than you were homeless [in England] at 16?

Agreed.
Whilst the OP may have considered that she fits technically into the definition, travelling around Europe and picking up casual work is what many young people do.
Maybe it's another self ID thing.
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Ubiquery · 25/11/2021 09:31

Interesting to hear your further perspective OP. I have worked with young people at risk of homelessness. I just don’t recognise your description I had a lot of fun also it wasn't all a struggle I have some great memories and "street smarts" matching that of being homeless in England. This is not to discount your experience.

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feelingpantstoday · 25/11/2021 09:48

Ubiquery I completely get what you mean. There were some dire times , some difficult but by the end there was some happiness and joy in my achievements, I didn't see a hostel or the uk as my only option. You do a tough job, one I don't think I could do and I'm sure the young people you work with are grateful for your support and I hope there is more support out there now than there was in the 90's.

By the 4th year I found a place with regular work and a job with accommodation. I managed to return to the uk at 21 with some savings to get back on my feet. I was lucky.

I'll step away now.

Have a good day ladies Flowers

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CSJobseeker · 25/11/2021 09:55

@Ubiquery

So it’s more that you went travelling around Europe at 16 than you were homeless [in England] at 16?

I would agree with this.

I was homeless at that age, and got by through sofa-surfing with various friends, before eventually a trusted adult found out about my situation and found me a room in a place that would let me stay (trying not to be too outing). I only spent a few nights 'on the streets' - and I didn't sleep, I just walked from place to place or caught night buses until morning.

I did work evenings, but I also continued with school (I knew that was my way out to a better life), and my earnings would never have been enough to rent somewhere.

Taking £300 and going travelling, finding work and accommodation as you go is not the same thing.
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Henrynextdoor · 25/11/2021 16:19

Really interesting reading your thread feelingpantstoday you were homeless at 16 but took control of the situation and were incredibly brave, it must have been lonely at times with no one to fall back on.
Glad things have worked out so well for youSmile

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