Moving on from domestic abuse
After years of abuse from her father and brothers, Meera finally fled her family home. Aged just 19 she escaped the mistreatment and honour-based violence, travelling as far away as she could afford to.
Meera found herself sleeping rough on the streets of Ipswich wandering during the day and sleeping in shop doorways at night. Still wearing her hijab, she felt different from other rough sleepers and didn’t feel brave enough to talk to anyone or ask for help.
Sleeping on bare concrete floors, Meera had always been careful to wake and move on before the shops opened, knowing the police would be involved if she was found there. She had a fear of authority figures due to some of the abuse she experienced overseas. One morning, after six weeks of homelessness, she overslept and was approached not by the police, but by a council worker. Shocked at finding such a young and vulnerable woman on the streets, the worker took Meera for breakfast where she explained how the council could help.
That night, Meera was put into shared emergency accommodation in the town. Although she off the streets, she was moved from hostel to hostel. However, everything changed when she was offered an Orbit tenancy.
Meera moved in to her new home with only two bin bags of dirty clothes. She had no idea of how to manage a tenancy, how she would afford to pay her rent or whether she would be moved again.
One of our Tenancy Coaches helped apply for Housing Benefit and we provided a hardship grant to buy white goods and a bed. She was also referred to our Better Days programme where she received counselling and budgeting advice. She received another grant that helped her get online, reducing her loneliness and giving her access to online services.
In time, Meera thrived in her new home and when she felt ready, was referred to one of our Employment Coaches who helped prepare her for finding work. Meera’s positive attitude and hard work soon paid off and she found a full-time job nearby.
Eighteen months later, Meera self-referred herself back to her Tenancy Coach. Having experienced a traumatic event at work, she had been let go and was fearful of losing her home. She had moved completely away from benefits and had worked hard to get her rent account over four weeks in credit. This cushion allowed her to apply for Universal Credit and wait for her first payment without going into arrears.
Meera had lost her newly found confidence following her job loss, so completed more coaching sessions with her Tenancy Coach and regained her motivation and confidence. She made the decision to apply to university and follow her dream of helping other young people suffering abuse. With support, Meera challenged benefit decisions which allowed her to afford to go to university and sustain her tenancy.
She had to fight to get her housing costs paid for while attending her classes. Many people would have given up their dream at this point, but Meera challenged decisions and appealed until successful. Additional grants provided help with initial travel costs, text books and a laptop.
Meera is now a full-time student studying psychology. She feels safe and happy in her home and is on track and up-to-date with her rent and her bills. She has just been approached by the council worker who originally found her sleeping on the streets who has offered an internship in their department. We wish her all the success in the future!