“They ended up asking me to leave. They said to us that we had the choice to stay in that house, but we had to put our daughter in foster care, or for her to stay at that address, and us to leave. That’s the decision I made, to leave that house, because I wasn’t going to make my daughter go into foster care”.
After spending most of her life living in foster care, Jade had a baby and was living with her partner’s family. However, the relationship with him broke down and, after being confronted with the choice to give up her child to foster care or leaving their home, she chose the latter.
“I came to central London to be with my real mother. I’d always known my mum, but I had not had a proper relationship with her. She had her own issues, I can see it a lot clearer now, but at the time I had no idea. I was only 19. My Mum told me ‘come and live with me’ and so I came down to live with her”.
However, the situation with her mum deteriorated, and Jade had to leave, so she started sleeping rough, and her mental health got worse.
“At the time I was going through all the bad stuff, so my head was a bit all over the place. I started drinking and taking drugs… You’re not aware of time really, days and more days and nights turn into all the same”.
Jade got in touch with The Connection at St Martin’s, which is partly funded by St Martin’s Charity. The Connection is a specialist service that enables people sleeping rough to find the support they want and a safe place to live in the very heart of London. She initially used The Connection for the basic services – showers, laundry, a hot meal.
“When you first turn up homeless and you just say to people, where can I get some food? They’ll just say, ‘go to The Connection’. And you say ‘where’s The Connection?’ and they say ‘the big red door’”.
She soon built a very strong relationship with her key worker Hannah, who helped her to get support for her substance misuse and encouraged her to take care of her mental health. She also helped Jade get a flat, where she has been living since earlier this year.
“I’m lucky with the support and the services that I’ve had help from, because there’s a lot of people out there for whom it’s very different, and they can’t get the help and support they need. I’m lucky enough, having been able to pull myself out of that dark place young enough that I’ve still got a chance”.
Jade is now settled and working hard to be the best mother she can be, as well as exploring all the options the future might bring. She has a good relationship with her daughter and her son, who was born two years ago. They live with their paternal grandparents, but Jade visits them often and is building a close relationship with them. She has managed to pull herself out of a lot of the problems of the past and is looking for work while turning her flat into a home.
“It’s just your home, isn’t it? You can do what you want with it. You can have who you want in it. Have it decorated how you want. If you don’t want someone in there, tell them to get out. It is safe. I always wanted a home, and now I have a home and it’s mine. It’s got my name on it. No one can take that away from me”.