I suffered from domestic violence for 22 years. I was brought up in a very strict, British-Bangladeshi family. I had no freedom. I was literally locked away. I wasn’t allowed to choose the way I wanted to live my life. My home didn’t feel like my home. I was ready to leave home when I was 14. A very special advisor helped me. I lived in four hostels, started abusing myself with alcohol and drugs. I suffered from depression. I didn’t give a sh*t about myself. I was living in a hostel for 16-25 year olds, not really doing much. I was very bored with my time especially in the evening. My support worker referred me to Cardboard Citizens.
Since I met Cardboard Citizens, I’ve performed with ACT NOW, I attended evening workshops, met new people, practised my acting skills. I also spent 12 weeks creating
Life Ain’t No Musical and I got a PEARL qualification with this and a free jacket at the Christmas party! My proudest moment was getting that first qualification and being referred to the Prince’s Trust Programme where I did a 12-week employment course.
I thought ACT NOW was just acting at first but then I became a Member. I realised there’s a lot more to what (Cardboard Citizens) do, they connect Members with other organisations and help people with mental health problems as well. I have improved my time-keeping, my communication, reliability and I can now work under pressure. Before, I was looking for work but I didn’t know where to go. Cardboard Citizens referred me to an employment coach and actually found me courses!
When I did Life Ain’t No Musical, I was a bit nervous. I thought people would be judgemental. I thought to myself, am I going to commit or am I going to hide away forever?
I’m now working as an Event Steward for A Clean Slate (a training and employment social enterprise) which Cardboard Citizens referred me to. Clean Slate also train you at NVQ Level 2. I’ve moved forward when I thought I would be stuck, slowly I’m getting somewhere. I feel there are friends and family that are proud of me for what I am doing.
Homelessness is not just about people who ain’t got no money or are living on the street but also those with drug and alcohol problems, those financially abused and suffering from family and personal breakdowns. It is about giving them opportunities so they can get housing, friends, advice, doctors and support workers.
Hopefully I now have a career path and one day I will get there: to university. I want to keep making friends and boosting my confidence. People say I’ve changed, that I look different. I know that I have come far and I would like to do more volunteer work, maybe get a part-time job! I can’t wait for the next Members’ meeting!