Left waiting…

Earlier today I met with a woman who has asked to remain anonymous.

She is currently staying in a temporary shelter that provides short-term accommodation for rough sleepers for up to three weeks.

She is a well-educated woman. At the age of 13, she was raiding her father’s library, reading high-brow political books like Sacco and Vanzetti and the diaries of Guevara.  By 16, she was already working on her A-levels, but made the decision to leave school before taking the exams.

We have met a number of times over the last few weeks, and I have seen her motivation and morale improve massively as things started moving forward in terms of finding next stage accommodation. She now has a bed waiting for her at a women’s hostel, dependent on proof of benefits.

Today, when I saw her she looked absolutely exhausted and very stressed. She told me “I want to start working again, but despite having signed for Job Seekers Allowance twice and the benefits people telling me my National Insurance number, they told me there was no sign of a claim for me in their system.”

This was how she described how she felt:

“So that kind of brings me back to square one a little bit.

“I feel actually quite de-motivated about putting the effort into looking for jobs that I was looking for. It’s very draining. It’s not knowing. It’s the uncertainty. I’m tagged as anonymous for the blog and yes, you feel very anonymous and at the same time very observed. Every intricacy of your life has to be available for examination by people who don’t have a face, who you’ve never met, whose names you don’t know. Yet at the same time you’re just so invisible and dispensable. It’s really surreal.

“When I’m trying to make appointments, the attitude from people is very much that you have all the time in the world that you can drop everything and run at a minutes notice or just hang around waiting three hours for a phone call that doesn’t come. Obviously nobody appreciates the anxiety that occurs in those three hours and actually the reality is that chasing all this up is practically a full time job in itself.

“St Mungo’s have been really good, but the fear is there, the fear is definitely there of having to sleep rough.”

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