I was born in the Netherlands but moved to the UK after meeting my partner Carl in 2009. Things were going well for the first 6 years. Both of us were working, had cars, and enjoying spending time with Carl’s daughter from an earlier relationship.
In December 2015 Carl started feeling unwell. He looked thin and didn’t have the energy he normally had. We then found ourselves unexpectedly evicted by our landlord, who was also our employer. I was worried about Carl’s health, but now we found ourselves unemployed and without a home.
For the first night we slept outside the train station. I remember it being –4 degrees and a young Russian lad, who was also homeless, gave us his blanket to help us keep warm. The second night we were able to get some money together and stay in a bed and breakfast.
Carl was great. He went and explained our situation to the Hull City Council Homeless section in the Wilson Centre. We were referred to The Crossings and was given a bed that day. For the first few weeks we were in separate rooms but soon moved across to the couples room when it became available.
As with everyone who find themselves homeless for the first time we found the experience traumatic. Thanks to the kindness of the young Russian boy in the train station, and help from staff at The Crossings, things soon started turning around for the better.
Being from the Netherlands I was nervous about my benefits, but more importantly I was worried about Carl’s health and keeping his hospital appointments. Staff helped us focus on what needed to be done. We can’t thank the staff enough, Wayne, Sam, Rachel, Tracy and Natalie who were so eager to help us.
After a couple of weeks we made some good friends. Whenever clothing donations were delivered I would organise them and distribute them among those tenants who needed them. Carl took part in a couple of the programmes of support, using the computer to help register people to vote.
It’s a shame when you see people not engaging with staff or taking part. We’ve got to know some great people while doing activities. Going to Liverpool for the LGBT conference helped take our minds off the hospital appointments, gardening helped make the hostel feel welcoming, meetings helped us have an influence on what happens in The Crossings. The craft groups were fun and you got to have a laugh whilst making things together.
Through the help of staff we have moved into a lovely redecorated Riverside flat close to the city centre. Things are feeling normal and we able to have Carls daughter visit again.
Our experiences have given us a greater respect for homeless people. It’s open our eyes up to the increasing problems people are facing, not just in Hull, but around the UK. We want to continue helping others and will be returning to The Crossings as volunteers, running workshops and provide meals for those in need.
What advice would I give someone who’s just moved into the Crossings? Talk to staff, they can and will help you providing you know what you want in life. Accept the help being offered and make those positive changes necessary to move on.