This story was written by one of Bissell Centre’s Homeless to Homes participants. *Name has been changed to protect the participant’s privacy.
My name is Jennifer*. I became homeless about four years ago. Prior to becoming homeless, I was in an abusive relationship with a common law partner for approximately 10 years. The moment that I made the decision to leave this relationship was the moment I became homeless. I knew that’s what I was choosing, but the experience that I had in this relationship was so bad that I felt like I had no alternatives.
Being homeless is pretty rough. There were many moments when I was homeless that I felt scared and angry. I found that the amount of alcohol I drank increased when I was homeless, and I spent time picking bottles to make enough money to purchase more liquor. I spent most nights at inner city shelters, and at times, when I had no other options I even stayed outside.
One day last winter I was accepted into Bissell Centre’s Homeless to Homes program. Initially I had heard about this program through both Bissell’s Victims Services and Adult Support teams. On July 5, 2012 I moved into my own apartment. I love my apartment, I enjoy my time at it, and I stay there, away from downtown.
I appreciate the support I receive from Bissell Centre, and find the people that work there to be great. My life has changed since starting to receive these supports. Having my own place has helped me to find a sense of safety and security, something that I didn’t feel during my four years of homelessness. I am learning how to enjoy being by myself, and as I learn and grow I feel a stronger sense of self confidence. I no longer need to turn to alcohol to solve my problems, as when I make mistakes, a support worker is there to help me find the solution. With each solution comes a greater sense of dignity. Now when I feel down and out I chose to go for a walk outside, it is really nice to have a place to come inside to when I’m done these walks. Anyone that has ever been homeless may not understand just how important this is.
This winter will be spent receiving addictions treatment and dealing with some medical challenges I’m having. In the spring, I would like to return to work as a chef, cooking for long term care patients.
I greatly appreciate the support I have received from Bissell Centre. Thank you to both the Government of Alberta, and Homeward Trust for making amazing programs like these possible.