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Girl; looking for home

September 09 2015
Bonny uses her experience to try and help others in difficult circumstances. Bonny uses her experience to try and help others in difficult circumstances.
Being named after two gangsters is a tricky start to life.

Bonny Clyde Allyson was born into a gangster family, hence the name. Her parents were real-life versions of Bonny and Clyde, true partners in crime, except the dark reality of vicious violence was far from glamorous.

For Bonny, it meant constant fear, little security and a period where she had no stable home for six years. She was among the hidden homeless – those living in temporary accommodation, B&Bs and hostels.

Bonny knew from a very young age that her parents were embroiled in crime just from the way others reacted to their presence. Violence and police involvement were a part of daily life. Her dad was a former boxer and bank robber alongside her mum, who specialised in fraud.

“My interpretation of my dad was violence, it got you status – it got you respected,” she says. My mum and dad went after each other and it was vicious. Everyone was terrified of him, but also of my mum. She was, if anything, more outrageous because she was a woman. That was more unexpected to people.”

By the time she was five, violence eventually split her parents up, they left the family home in Angel Town and Bonny began squatting with her mum in Styles Garden, Brixton, not that she knew that’s what it was at the time. From there, they moved to a B&B in Balham, where her mum’s health deteriorated – a result of the the extreme violence in her life.

“Some days, I’d just be left alone with other families living in the B&B and that was, for me, an indication that something’s changing; my mum’s struggling more,” she explains. “By the time I was five or six, I had the mentality of a teenager.

"I don’t think that’s a good thing now, but looking back I needed to be streetwise because I needed to be able to fend for myself.”

Between the ages of 6 and 11, Bonny had no set place to sleep and she ran away a lot. There were various stays with family members and friends, some of whom lived in the countryside, a place Bonny loved, but eventually, her mum would always bring her back to London.

There was a long period of time were Bonny felt she didn’t fit in anywhere. Her dad had a new family and new children, whom she didn’t feel comfortable with, but her mum was too unwell to care for her either. After a brief period of living with her dad, aged 11, she was shipped back to her mum, who was still embroiled in crime.

Soon after, her mum’s new partner died in prison, a loss that impacted Bonny greatly. Then her mum’s flat had an arson attack on it. Eventually, her mum was sent to prison for fraud, leaving Bonny homeless again.

Aged 12, her boyfriend’s family took her into their family home and life began to change. She went back to school, started working part-time and all the baby steps she made began to mount up.

After finishing secondary school, she started full-time work and later in life she qualified as a teacher, a counsellor and a spiritual healer.

There have been bumps along the way (an eating disorder and a rocky long-term relationship that was difficult to leave), but Bonny hasn’t looked back.

Her life is now dedicated to her children and helping others as a counsellor, a play therapist in a primary school, teaching counselling and being clinical manager and supervisor of a counselling centre. Her extreme childhood has enabled her to deal with challenging circumstances and situations of some of those she works with.

She owns two houses (“so hopefully I’ll never be homeless again”), has two children and one day hopes to write a self-healing book to reach people globally to inspire them.

“My experience of violence, my own war zone, has given me the capacity to do some really extreme work and I wouldn’t change it,” she says.

“It’s not about being ‘fixed’ – it’s about an evolving process. It’s about trying to be the best person you can be. It’s not always easy, but I won’t give up.

“I wont go out like that, I’ll fight to the death because that is what I do to honour myself and to be authentic.”

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