We were lucky enough to catch up with Ellie, a former client of ours who battled with homelessness and domestic abuse at the young age of 16. Many of us at Arc remember Ellie well and we’re thrilled to hear she’s doing so well and has come back to visit us 4 years later to share her story!
“At 15 I met my ex-partner and he convinced me we were destined to be together and that I should leave home to be with him. I started arguing with my Mum, turning up at home drunk and treating my younger brother’s badly, so that she would kick me out and I’d have to be housed elsewhere. I was young and stupid and my relationship was abusive, I didn’t know what was best for me.
My mum struggled to cope and eventually I was placed into care, with foster parents. At 16, this was tough and my bad behaviour continued so foster care was no longer an option and I was referred to Arc and placed into their young person’s project.”
Here, Ellie’s relationship became worse and the abuse, drugs and violence meant it was difficult to hold down accommodation. Eventually Ellie and her then partner ended up sleeping rough in a tent in French Weir.
“Sleeping rough was awful but I had no choice – my partner would not let me accept a place at Lindley House and the risk of going against his word was too high. I remember turning up at my Mum’s in tears, telling her I hadn’t bathed in 3 weeks. The longer I was sleeping rough, the more I thought that this was just my life now. I’d stopped caring for myself but it wasn’t enough to get me to get help.”
“We were then both offered a place at Lindley House and so we moved in. I remember when I got there, I just couldn’t stop crying because I thought, ‘I’ve actually got four walls and a roof’, it was like a dream come true.”
Ellie says she loved her time at Lindley and described it as her lifeline and said it was like having ‘one big family, as we often hear from clients! She said even on her bad days, she could go and sit with the support staff and they’d cheer her up and make her laugh. Eventually Ellie was able to move into one of our satellite properties but still in her relationship, the abuse got worse and worse to the point where Ellie feared her life.
One day, Ellie got seriously injured at the hand of her partner and took the incredibly brave step to leave. The road was a little rocky from there but with the support of her new partner Matt, Ellie took the steps to rebuild her life. Her and Matt went on to have a son, have recently bought their first home together and Ellie was offered a position to help young people who are struggling with the same things she did.
“I was still being supported by Leaving Care and my Support Worker mentioned they were offering apprenticeships. I thought I have nothing to lose and so gave it a go – I did 12 months gaining a business admin diploma, retook my GSCE Maths and English. This helped me to build my skills and I am now in full time employment supporting other care leavers and I love it!"
I asked Ellie what the one thing is that she’d teach people about homelessness – “Never judge a book by its cover. I used to be judgemental towards homeless people and then it happened to me. You never know what someone is going through. You wouldn’t have been able to tell I was going through an abusive relationship – people just thought it was the drugs.”
On asking Ellie for any final words… “Arc saved my life.”