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Throughout this week we’ll be sharing interviews with people who access our homeless support services in Edinburgh.
Today we hear from Brian* from our Oxgangs Street supported accommodation service who tells us about his experience of becoming homeless and how it has affected his mental health.
* Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality
I became homeless due to issues within my family.
Becoming homeless has affected my mental health hugely. If you are not in good homeless accommodation, there are lots of things to worry about. Such as, am I going to have somewhere to sleep tonight? Where/what am I going to eat? Where can I wash myself and my clothes? This has had a huge impact on my mental and physical health.
There also doesn’t seem to be a great deal of professional support with mental health problems. I had one appointment a month to get support for my mental health, which just isn’t enough.
When you become homeless and look for help from the local council, you are offered a place somewhere, usually a B&B. If you refuse this you can be told that you’re now not getting anywhere as you refused the B&B.
Some of the B&Bs have high rent and some don’t have cooking facilities so you have to buy meals which can be expensive, especially while on benefits. Some B&Bs and hostels kick you out in the morning and you can’t return until the evening, so you have to kill time floating about. Some people use drugs or alcohol to cope. Some B&Bs don’t accept post, so it’s difficult to get a bank account or official identification, which causes further problems.
If you try and sell the Big Issue, you need to send the receipts to DWP, which makes you self-employed and you have to pay tax on any earnings from selling the magazine. This can then affect your benefits and mean that you need to pay rent in B&Bs or hostels, which can be very, very high. There’s no motivation to start working. I was keen to work when I became homeless and save money for my future, but it’s impossible while in the homeless system.
Hillcrest Futures has been great. The support I have been getting here is really good. I wish there were more places like this available to people who become homeless.