Jasmine, a student from the North East, slept in her car for a week after a family breakdown meant she had nowhere to go. Thankfully. she was able to get in touch with Nightstop.
“I was just weeks away from completing my degree when problems at home escalated and I suddenly became homeless. I went to a friend’s house for a time, but she’s a single mum with not much space, so I had to leave. After that, the only place I could go was my car. I didn’t want people at university to know I was struggling.”
“At the time, I was working part-time, around 20-hours a week, studying for my finals, and had just been diagnosed with autism, but at no point was I ever going to miss those exams, I’d worked too hard to get to this point.”
“As soon as my tutor asked if I was OK, I knew I couldn’t put on a facade any longer – I couldn’t pretend that I was doing OK, but i didn’t want people at university to know I was struggling. I was ashamed to admit that I had nowhere to go, nowhere to live.
Crushed and defeated, and turned away by the council who couldn’t help her find a safe place to stay for the night, Jasmine turned to Nightstop after five nights and five days living out of her car.
“I slept in car for nearly a week and had to spend my tight student budget on basic survival things like a blanket, bottled water, wet wipes and a glass so I could brush my teeth.
“I was at breaking point when I called Nightstop.”
“I was invited into the Nightstop office, where there’s a communal space I could hang out in for the day, so I got out my laptop and did some of my Uni work.
Nightstop placed Jasmine with volunteer hosts in the community.
“I was so anxious turning up at their house because I had a car boot full of dirty clothes and stuff, I didn’t want them to judge me for it. My autism means I thrive on routines. I’m clean, tidy and like my things to be in order – but that wasn’t possible as I was going from one bad situation to the next.
“My anxiety lifted as soon as the volunteer host, opened the door. I said I am here from Nightstop, and he smiled, and invited me in. He showed me my room and the bathroom straight away. I felt safe and relaxed instantly. It felt so peaceful and calm here compared to the busy City Centre I’d been parked up in.
“I was hungry, but my anxiety levels were high, so I didn’t join the couple for dinner, and had a crisp sandwich later that evening instead. I saw their stew leftovers on the stove, and when I mentioned to Mark and Elizabeth how lovely it looked, they kindly shared the recipe with me. I still have it, and it’s one of my staple dinners which I now eat it all the time.
“When I left my host’s house, I felt like nothing I could do would be good enough to thank them. I know they can’t accept anything for letting me stay, but I wish I could have given them something, because I was so grateful. Being such an independent person, I struggle when it comes to asking and accepting help, which was what they gave me so freely, no strings attached. They really are wonderful people.
“I managed to get another place to stay that following evening, and Depaul and the Council worked together after that to find me more permanent and affordable accommodation. I’m looking forward to the future, now that I’ve graduated and spend a lot of my time building my business, which is going well.
I often think about what life will look like in the future, but one thing is for sure – if I’m ever in a situation where I have a spare room to offer someone for the night, I’ll be sure to sign up as a Nightstop host myself because I can’t explain the impact it had on my life and could have on someone else’s.”
Jasmine graduated with a degree in art and design and started her freelance digital marketing business shortly after leaving University. She’s now trying to build her portfolio in social media management and photography and wants to specialise in fashion and retail.
*The story is told in Jasmine’s own words. An actor was used in the photography and film, and names have been changed to protect their privacy.
Hear from Jasmine in her own words:
Charlie first became homeless at 16 years old when the relationship with his mum deteriorated. With nowhere to go, Charlie stayed in late night cafes and a bus station for safety, until he found Nightstop.
This winter there are thousands of young people in the UK with no safe place to live or regular bed to sleep in. Help a young person reach a safe place tonight
Hear from Depaul UK’s Executive Director of Services, Nicola Harwood on why we urgently need your help to keep young people at risk of homelessness safe tonight.