I Was a Homeless Teen

I look back at my teenage years and wince. There was lots of fun but also so much anger and confusion and trying to find myself. But this account of Lianne’s (aka @this_mummy_can_lb) teens spent living in hostels really puts things in perspective. A remarkable story from a remarkable person.


  • At 17yrs old, my social worker broke the news to me that I was ‘too old’ for another foster placement and it was now time for me to go it alone. Petrified, all the anxieties of what life would have in store for me built up, but I didn’t have a choice. It was time for me to take care of myself, become an independent young adult.

  • I was placed in supported accommodation, or what most people call, a hostel.

  • Hostel is a funny word. I had always associated it with the film ‘Hostel’ (you know the one where all the guests are purchased and murdered?!), anyhow, my view of them was not a positive one. Turns out, this was the same for most peoples opinion of what a hostel was, and the kind of people that may live in one.

  • I have never been so scared for my future as I was then. I felt abandoned. Abandoned by the system that had become my parents for the previous few years. My social worker dropped me off with a singular box and a few black bags of my belongings, showed me to my room and promptly left. The hostel was staffed 24hrs a day, but I couldn’t see how I could ever trust another adult not to abandon me.

  • I can still see the empty room. A single bed, a fridge freezer and a sink in the corner of the room. My heart was just as empty. This was my new home. It was meant to be my new ‘safe place’ but I just couldn’t  imagine how this would ever be ‘home’. Even now, whenever I feel vulnerable, I can feel that emptiness.

  • The next day, I went into school. I was in the second year of my A-Levels, and despite wanting to fall down a dark hole, my school had been the only thing stable in my life for the past 8yrs and it was my sanctuary. Teachers were all very supportive, but when other students found out where I was living I felt this deep, painful shame. Too painful for me to go back. That was my last day.

  •  I returned to my room. I wanted to disappear. How had my life come to this? Sadness and fear turned to anger and resentment.

  • This resentment fuelled my need to reinvent myself. I realised I could be whoever I wanted to be. I was no longer going to be the timid, quiet girl who couldn’t bare to lift her head when talking to people. No, I was going to be confident and show everyone who I thought I wanted to be.

  • It didn’t take long for me to make some friends. When you are living in the same building and are sharing amenities, knowing someone for a few weeks felt like years.

  • Some of these friends would go on to be some of the most amazing women I have ever come across. One became my maid of honour and one a bridesmaid. Some are life long friends and I have shared some of the most amazing experiences with them.

  • It goes without saying that some of these friends I met, were not healthy nor real. In my new created character I betrayed myself as someone I was not, and with that I made some very VERY bad choices. I was constantly in self destruct mode. I didn’t care what happened to me, I never saw a future for me.

  •  I would walk round a town I didn’t know and would feel as if everyone was looking at me. They must know where I lived? If I ever had to tell someone where I lived, I could see the judgement in their face. I could feel it.

  •  I could not shift the feeling of shame. I was lost.

  • I attempted suicide, twice. I remember being released from hospital after the first time and going back to my room just to swallow another 80 pills. I laid on my bed and waited. I waited to feel myself dying. I woke up to a member of staff calling the emergency services and trying to make me open my eyes. I spent a week in hospital after being told my liver may never come back from this. The next step was complete liver failure.

  • The next few days and weeks went by in a blur, but I knew that the character I had created had been broken. The barriers were down and I had no choice but to let people in. I had to trust again. At least I had to learn how to.

  • I started to engage in support with the staff. I started to feel accountable. Someone knew of my existence and they cared. They had faith in me and slowly I started to believe that I may actually have a future.

  • I went to college to do a musical theatre diploma. Throughout my school years I had won bursaries for singing lessons, and the stage became my escape. It felt SO good to be back doing something that had given me so much joy.

  • After a while it dawned on me, that actually, I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I thought I would. Its not that I didn’t enjoy it. I just didn’t need it anymore. My heart was healing, there was no longer a need for me to escape.

  • I realised that the journey I was on, was the most profound experience of my life. I relished in the realisation that I was a survivor, that I was going to make the most of my time at the hostel and make something of my life.

  • I suddenly became very proud of where I lived. I would sing at events to raise awareness and even put on my own showcase fundraiser to raise some much needed funds for the hostel.

  • It was at this fundraiser that my life changed forever. Another musician, a drummer came with his band to play for us and he would become my Husband and the father to my three children.

  •  In a serious relationship, holding down a full time job, it was now time for me to leave the hostel. We found ourselves a small flat and bit the bullet and moved in together.

  • 16 months I spent at the hostel. I saw some of my darkest days there but without them, I would never have seen the light. The most amazing and life changing experience of my life. I am indebted to the staff for all their support and the amazing friends I met along the way.

  • There was only one thing I now needed more than anything. I needed my own family. I had the man and the job/flat, and now it was time for a baby. Looking back, yes we were young, I was just 19 when I fell pregnant with my son, but I was ready. We were ready.

  • Our son was born at 31 weeks. It was tough. I never imagined I would have to experience anything traumatic again, but thats life. I had survived the worst alone, I could do this with my new family, we were made of tough stuff.

  • Our gorgeous boy was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy when he was 17 months old. The vulnerability set in and for while I nearly drowned. I didn’t, I couldn’t, he was my life now and everything I do has to be for him. I had to have faith, I needed him to know that I believed in him.

  • He is 5yrs old now, and he shows us every day just how strong he is. He has defied the doctors and specialists. His determination and resilience has me in utter ore of him. We are tremendously proud.

  • 8yrs after moving into the hostel I have a wonderful husband and three(!) beautiful children. I could never have imagined I would be where I am now. I have given the past five years to my children and been my sons full time carer. When he started school this September gone, and with our third finally taking a bottle, I was ready. I was ready to go back into the world as Lianne.

  • I got into some charity work and through this was in contact with the manager at the hostel. Without hesitation she offered me a job. I could not believe my luck.

  • I have now been working as a support worker at the very place that changed my life forever for 3 months. I feel so privileged to in a position to have an impact on these young, vulnerable peoples lives. I can offer them something that I could never see. The hope of a future. An understanding of how it really feels to be their shoes.

  • On the other side of the office door of the hostel I understand now the barriers the staff face. There is little to no funding. The situations we have to deal with are HARD. Some of them are very triggering for me. But with this comes healing that I never thought would be possible. Closure is an extraordinary thing.

  • 651,500 – the number of supported accommodation units in the UK as of the end of 2015. Only 29% of these cater for young people (gov.uk). People leaving care like myself, fleeing relationship breakdowns at home and teenage girls, pregnant or already mothers with no where to turn are all included in these statistics. There simply is not enough support for these vulnerable young people. The government hopes to end homelessness by 2020. Im holding out hope that funding will be poured into the right places to help make this happen.

  • For now, I know I am doing all I can to support those in need. I am forever thankful for the support I received. Someone believed in me and gave me permission to believe in myself. My goodness it feels pretty special to be giving that to others, I love my job!

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