VOICES OF LEWISHAM
“At first I was just so overwhelmed, I didn’t know which way to look, who to turn to.
Diane, 36, experienced domestic abuse from her ex-partner. This led to her fleeing her home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She is now living in Catford.
“I lived with a paranoid schizophrenic for the past four years. I was a subject of total control, and everything went through him. It was really terrible, the mental damage. A few months ago, I plucked up the courage, packed up my stuff and left. I ended up having to sleep outside.
“At first I was just so overwhelmed, I didn’t know which way to look, who to turn to. I was really worried that I wasn’t going to be housed, that I was going to be left out amongst all sorts. You think, am I even going to wake up tomorrow? It’s been quite scary, but with the help from Lewisham Council - with Louis, my housing officer, and Kelly, who is now my support worker – wow, they’ve just turned my life around.
“Because of COVID I didn’t know if they would have an available place for me to go. You don’t know if you’re infected or not, or if you’re walking into a place where there are people who are.
“I called support organisations and somebody came out to see me and I was given temporary accommodation. The very next thing I know, I was coming for a viewing at this flat. I signed the tenancy straight away. The help and support Lewisham Council give you is amazing.
“Louis and Kelly have been absolutely amazing. They call to see if I’m okay, they are really caring. I feel safe talking to these guys. It took me becoming homeless, for my faith in humans to be restored.
“Looking forward it’s all about getting myself a stable job, a secure environment. I have a five year old son who lives with his dad. Once I’m sorted, I would like my son to live back with me.
“I want to give back and help. I want to study, I’m wasting my brain! My mum said I should work with people who have suffered domestic violence and escaped it, because I’ve lived it. Helping them on the side of housing as well. I’ve helped other women move from the hostel, directing them to the support they need.
“I wouldn’t of thought I’d have a home, I didn’t know how the system worked. There’s so many others out there sofa surfing, homeless, and they don’t know what to do or who to reach out to.
They should know you don’t have to suffer and struggle in silence, people are there to help.
“I’ve got friends around me now - I’m so happy, I’m celebrating that I don’t have to look over my shoulder and worry if I’ll get abused. It’s a change, such a change.”
Diane (not her real name) spoke to us in October 2020