Mhairi left her family home as a teenager to move in with her then boyfriend. When the relationship broke down, she felt unable to go back to her parents and ended up street homeless before moving into a local hostel. She was referred to YMCA Bournemouth, which provides extensive supported accommodation for young people to help her get back on her feet. Mhairi’s now back at college and is rebuilding her life. She’s sharing her experiences about what it was like to be homeless and what she’s learned since then to help other young people like her.
“I’ve been in the hostel part of YMCA Bournemouth since December 2016 and moved there because YMCA was accommodating to my needs as a young person.
“It took some time to get used to living in the hostel. My biggest challenge has been adjusting to a lot of new situations, which is hard for me as I hate change and find it very difficult to deal with. But YMCA has helped me to realise that change isn’t always bad and to keep a positive mind.
“YMCA has supported me by attending meetings and court cases with me, they’ve also helped me by putting a crisis plan in place for when it is needed, because I sometimes struggle with mental health difficulties.
“The best part about YMCA is that it turns into your crazy dysfunctional family. Both staff and residents make you feel so welcome and 95% of the time everyone gets along perfectly. There’s hardly any drama and overall I just feel safe.
“If I hadn’t moved into YMCA I honestly have no idea where I would be. I possibly would have been back on the streets.
“Some people think that a lot of homeless people ended up on the streets because of drugs and alcohol, but that’s definitely not fair. People are at YMCA for all kinds of reasons. Some have struggled with mental health difficulties and others have lost their home through no fault of their own. There are many reasons why you can end up homeless, and it can happen to everyone.
“Bournemouth got a major homeless problem. You only need to walk down the street and you’ll see homeless people everywhere. Lots of hostels struggle to take people in now, because they are always full. I know a lot of people who are out on the streets and just can’t get a place.
“I’m at YMCA because I just couldn’t cope anymore. I used to work but I had really bad mental health and I was a single mum, so one day I just couldn’t do it anymore.
“I’ve just started college again and I’m doing a course in social care. I want to do this course to help improve my life for myself and my son and to grow in myself. The course is a one year course and can help me access university to continue my education further and hopefully come out with a degree in social care. I really want to be able to help people like me and help them to grow as a person like I have done now.
“If there’s one thing I could say to other young people it’d be ‘listen to your parents’. You may think they’re being harsh or over protective, however they’re trying to guide you on a path where they know you’ll be safe. I didn’t listen and as much as I wouldn’t change what I’ve gone through, I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone else. I’ve grown so much as a person over the past few years however I’ve broken bridges with my family which I’m now struggling to fix. Listen to your parents, it’s not worth losing them in the long run.”