Emma, 23, became homeless after an abusive relationship fell apart while they were studying at university. They sofa-surfed for a while, but without a safe place to live, their mental health soon began to deteriorate.  

“This year has been chaotic. I moved into private renting after living in halls [at the university]. Then I met somebody and moved in with them, but they turned out to be abusive. Sexual assault meant I had to leave. I sofa-surfed and then moved back into university halls. 

“The problem with the university halls was that they kept putting me on bad contracts. I was on contracts for two weeks which would then be extended by two weeks. But I wouldn’t find out until the end of that week. My mental health was awful. I had no stability in the situation. This carried on for six months. 

“It eventually led to a suicide attempt. The problem was never with my mental health, the problem was that I was homeless. You can’t prescribe a house. I then presented myself to the council as homeless. But I was prevented from doing so by the University as they said they could house me. That’s when Depaul got involved.” 

Emma was supported by Depaul’s Pathfinder service, and worked with their Progression Coach, Charley, to find a safe and stable place to call home. 

“Depaul genuinely believed in me. That I could do many great things if only I had a house. That’s extremely important, especially for someone whose trust has been violated many times by other services. 

“We did everything we could to find a flat and eventually we got a contract signed. It’s lovely, it’s safety, it’s stability. It’s everything I could have wished for. It feels like home. 

“I’ve been stable ever since. With Depaul, when you get housed, you don’t get left to fend for yourself. You still get six months of support. I really like that as I’ve had a bunch of issues come up.  

“That’s why it’s so important to have a home. It’s not just about having shelter; it’s about rebuilding your life.”