“I was given temporary accommodation, but I feel isolated. I was getting depressed. I’m not used to four walls, it was uncomfortable. I come out here, it’s my home.”
Some people told us that they wanted to stay outside when the ‘Everyone In’ policy was implemented. By staying on the streets there was a sense of familiarity, they were able to connect with people they knew and felt less isolated. People spoke of feeling cared for by those who worked or lived around them and they felt safe.
“They gave me a room in a hotel. It was miles away. I was lonely, everyone I know is here. I didn’t know what was going on, how long I was going to be there, so I came back here. It’s quieter, less noise than before.”
Many people referred to the streets as their homes. This was not seen as a positive thing, but instead, they struggled to see the benefits of moving into temporary accommodation, only to end up back where they started.
“I’m 60 years old and I’ve been sleeping on the streets for 20 years, about 10 of those years have been on this street – It’s my home. It’s what I know.”
“I do know a few people that didn’t want to go inside. Being on the street is a desperate thing, it’s not a choice.”
For many people Westminster was not their home, they had found themselves here due to not being able to access the right support in their area. People wanted to start a new life and a new identity away from the homelessness ‘community’. They wanted to be seen as people, instead of homeless and to have a home, rather than a case file.
“I lived in Leicester, I was in an abusive relationship, no one would help me they said I didn’t have a local connection. I came here, they said the same. I just want a home.”