Amanda, 44

This is Amanda’s story, told in her own words:

(You may find the contents of this story upsetting.)

“I’m homeless and living on the streets. Why? I was married for 17 years and my partner used to beat me up. I had children so I had to wait until they’d grew up before I could actually leave. When my youngest sorted her life out, I ran away. I got into a refuge because the council thought my children were with me. He ended up finding me and smashed the place up, so I got kicked out.

I had to squat or find friends and sleep there. I don’t like asking for anything. I never have. I think I have to do it myself. But that’s what you got to do – go round places, friends and ask if they could possibly put you up for the night. Make excuses so they don’t really know. You don’t like people to know you are this low in your life. I’ve been doing this for about the last five years. Just going here, there and everywhere, people’s sofas, squats.


If you see an empty property you just try and get in. Some squats I’ve been in, neighbours have called the police so you have to get out quick. You just find somewhere else or you sleep on the street. It’s terrible, you’re scared all the time. A female on the streets is vulnerable – you don’t know if you’re going to get raped, if you’re going to get attacked. You go round asking for help, but most hostels round here are for males, so women just have to get on with it on their own.

You get some nice people. But two weeks ago when I was out begging two blokes in suits stamped on my feet as they walked past. That ain’t nice. There’s no need for that.

About a year ago when I was begging I got attacked. I met a guy who stopped these two blokes from beating me up and we became good friends. When you are on the street you have to help each other out. There’s people getting raped around here and attacked, so you do have to look out for each other. A bloke offered me £30 to go and sleep with him. I said no. It’s only because I’ve got a friend that begs across the road that I knew I was safe.

I didn’t like my childhood. I hated school. And the kids on the estate, a couple of them tried to rape me at one time. It wasn’t a very good time. From eight years old I had to look after my dad. I cared for him until he died. He had emphysema, bronchitis, problems with his legs. I’d wake up, go to school, come back, do the handwashing, cleaning, prepare all the dinners. Never went out to play. I couldn’t. My dad was too ill. My mum’d be out. She used to be alcoholic. When her boyfriend died I looked after her for three years until she died.

My relationship with my eldest daughter is good. The youngest is more for her dad, which upsets me as I used to have to protect her – I used to hide both of them under the beds or in the wardrobes and make sure I got the beatings instead of them. They don’t know I’m living on the streets. I go and see them and make excuses why they can’t come to me. I wouldn’t want them to feel like they’d have to take me in. Or maybe it’s the embarrassment of how I got to this stage in my life. I don’t know.

I’ve always been on my own. I’ve never had any counselling or any support from anyone. I’ve coped with it day to day myself. That’s my life story. I’ve been to local authorities. The services are terrible. If my children were younger they would’ve helped. I can’t get into council accommodation so I can’t get anywhere permanent to live. I’ve tried three or four times. The only thing I could do is save up about £1,500 to get a deposit and advance rent. Which ain’t going to happen.

I feel tearful, angry. It feels like I’ve been destroyed. It’s because they don’t help. You go to the library and look on computers. Newspapers, friends. People on the street talk to each other. We’ve done everything. There should be things on the radio, TV. There are women on the streets that need help and there are young kids out there who are just starting. They’ll end up getting attacked. They need a place of safety. A room of your own which you know no-one will be able to come in and attack you, you ain’t going to be kicked out of.

Eventually I would like to have a little farm where I do organic gardening. And I like photography. I’d like to go away and photograph a lot of things. I’d like to travel. I’ll get there one day. Slowly but surely. You’ve got to live day by day. There’s really tough days sometimes. Sometimes I don’t get enough to eat. But I don’t want to die yet, so you’ve just got to pick yourself up. I think of my dog and my good friend, and it’s not like I’ve got nothing.”

(All material on this page is copyright of Georgina Cranston.  Text editing by Sarah Carrington.)

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