Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Dec 2021 - Jan 2022 : OPPORTUNITY READ ONLINE

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When opportunity knocks

December 01 2021

Feeling in a low place, new opportunities are still out there to be taken. A story of perseverance and resilience rewarded with fresh, exciting opportunity.

I had a long history of homelessness – I spent time in a homeless B&B, a supported hostel and in precarious living situations, staying in relationships that were unhealthy, and often times dangerous, to avoid becoming homeless.

What ultimately led to me getting out of the situation and being able to thrive was opportunity, and without being lucky enough to have these opportunities, I don’t know where I would be today.

After being in several long-term abusive relationships, I wasn’t without hope of my life changing, but I certainly couldn’t see a way to make it happen. I was scared of leaving and being forced into the homelessness system. I had heard such horror stories about temporary accommodation, so it was a case of “better the devil you know”. I consequently spent far too long in living situations that were mentally and physically damaging to me and caused severe anxiety to those around me that cared. I eventually left one particularly abusive partner with a male friend, to present as homeless as a couple, which seemed slightly less daunting. We spent around 10 months in a homeless B&B with one working shower between 13 rooms.

I remember one day going down for breakfast. Individuals were allowed two pieces of toast. There were three pieces and a heel left, so when we were given the three bits of toast my partner put the heel in the toaster. We were told that it was two pieces per person but if you were in a shared room you got three between you. The loaf of bread was a reduced 8p loaf. It was grim.


Another time, my partner needed to get an ambulance late at night from the B&B. The manager said that if we weren’t back by the 11pm curfew we wouldn’t be able to stay. There was no way we would get back in time so there was a choice made between getting urgent healthcare or having somewhere to sleep that night. We went to the hospital and they wanted my partner to be kept in, but as I couldn’t stay with him and he didn’t want me on my own all night, we left and had to spend the night in the care shelter.

Eventually we got our own tenancy, but the trouble didn’t end there. On reflection, this relationship was one borne out of necessity rather than choice. I felt pressured and held back and my partner had addiction issues that he just couldn’t break. Again, I remained for longer than I should – feeling in limbo, unable to move on with life due to my deep unhappiness and scared of having to face a homeless B&B by myself.

I had a support worker who fought for opportunities that ultimately changed my life. It shows the difference of having someone advocating on your behalf. I was offered supported accommodation which felt like a haven in amongst all of the chaos. Although my time in the hostel was far from stable, it did give me the opportunity to start finding myself, having been the first time I had lived “alone” in my adult life.

I was there for around 20 months then was offered a tenancy close to my support networks. I had started volunteering for Cyrenians in their cook school after completing one of their cooking classes and was given the opportunity to complete their 'train the trainer' course. Shortly after moving into my own place I applied and was successful in my application as a cooking tutor! I was there for around two and a half years and returned to university part-time to start a Masters degree.

I have now been working with Cyrenians for over four years and am the manager for two services as well as being a trustee for two homelessness charities. I often reflect on how my life could be so different now if I hadn’t had the opportunities available, at the right times. I know that many are not so lucky, but we need to shout about opportunities and push for the creation of new ones so that all can benefit, not just a few.  

  • Viki works for Cyrenians, a Scotland-based homeless charity with a person-centred approach to tackling homelessness. To find out more about their work visit their website here: cyrenians.scot 
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