Humans of Scotland

Dawn’s story – my experience of homelessness

"I found a place where my intellect, opinions and lived experience were valued again. I can contribute something meaningful."

This story is about: Long Term ConditionsAnxietyHomelessness

“Homelessness was something that happened to other people. I suppose, without really thinking, I’d assumed that people had to have a big, traumatic life event to end up lost. Until the age of 40 I’d had a pretty easy life. Normal working class upbringing, loving parents, great friends, work I loved – and even, for a time, enough money!

Over the next decade the small, normal, relentless setbacks in life gradually eroded my resilience. Redundancies, relationship breakups, elderly ailing parents, just the usual. Increasing anxiety meant I struggled to work, and I ended up in a succession of poorly paid but stressful jobs. Lack of purpose and debt led to more anxiety, and my self confidence deserted me.

I worked in psychological health so didn’t suffer from the stigma that many people do, on the contrary I felt guilty and stupid because I couldn’t cope better and find my own answers.

Lockdown changed everything for us in different ways. For me, the world stopped making so much noise. I had time to think. Through my temporary accommodation I became involved with Homeless Network Scotland, and the Glasgow Alliance to End Homelessness. I’ve had training and opportunities to be involved in so many things, from collecting individual service user and frontline worker feedback to contributing to shaping future strategy.

I found a place where my intellect, opinions and lived experience were valued again. I can contribute something meaningful, I hope! There is certainly a lot of work to be done. There are so many simple stories out there like mine, waiting to be told, to tackle the shame we are told to feel because life hasn’t quite worked out as planned. I’m still getting back on my feet, so I know this sounds strange but short of winning the lottery I wouldn’t change anything. That would mean I wouldn’t have met some really amazing people, and I’d be much poorer for that. I’ve had so much help and support it’s great to be given the chance to pay it back. I’m starting to feel more like myself than I have in years.”

Dawn’s story was shared in collaboration with Glasgow Alliance to End Homelessness (this link will take you away from our website).