After coming out as trans, Xenia suffered abuse in her family home from her brothers and dad. When her mental health deteriorated badly, she was forced to sleep rough.
“I was living in East London. My step-mum didn’t particularly like me or my brother, and was emotionally abusive until she evicted us. Then we were living in a hostel for about two or three months before my dad got a place.
“When I came out as trans, as you might expect, a lot of my family didn’t react in a very positive way. If I wore something feminine like a skirt I would be judged by my brothers or my dad. After a while, it made me really depressed living at home. Then me and my dad had a massive falling out and I moved out.
“One friend had a place I could stay, but every so often I would leave to give them some space. I would just walk. I would find a place where the wind wasn’t blowing and I would just stay there. That happened for about two months. It was just a really rough time.
Xenia was eventually referred to Hotel 1824, our youth- specific emergency accommodation service for young people at risk of, or experiencing rough sleeping.
“I moved in at the end of September. I’ve been here around 7 months now. It’s nice to actually be in a place, where I don’t have to do it by myself. It’s a nice change.
“The fact that it’s for young people is really great. I met a few here who are LGBT. I’ve met some lovely people who have been really good friends. As a trans person, to have my own bathroom is amazing. When I lived with my mum and my step-dad they used to think of me as a boy, so they would come in to use the toilets and I would hate it so much.
“It has helped my mental health a lot. I wouldn’t be doing my hobbies as much as I am. They run workshops here and I did a spray paint workshop and absolutely loved it. They’ve paid for my first set of spray paints and have given me a desk to do it on. It’s a great way of lowering my anxiety. Whenever staff come into my room, they love looking at my art.
“I’m a bartender but obviously due to my mental health, I’ve had to stop working. Eventually though I want to open up my own bar, a Caribbean style bar, particularly Trinidadian style bar with proper traditional west-Indian food and traditional drinks!
“Depaul has been amazing, honestly, I’ve never met a charity as good as them. They have restored my trust in people. I’m a lot more accepting now that some people are actually nice and want to help me and are not going to leave me when things get hard.
“Honestly, I don’t know where I would be without them.