Tia has lived with domestic violence her whole life, starting from her childhood and progressing through a string of unhealthy relationships, as well as coping with addiction issues and homelessness. Having moved to a women’s refuge in Wiltshire, Tia explains how supported housing and meeting her support worker changed her life.
“Refuges had been suggested to me before but I was reluctant,” she said. “I’d been a victim of domestic violence my whole life and part of me felt ashamed to find myself in the situation I was in. I didn’t feel worthy of help.”
Arriving at the refuge with just a small bag of belongings, Tia confesses she felt worried at first. “Despite feeling pleased and relieved, I didn’t feel settled and felt like I should be there. When I eventually met my support worker everything was great then.”
Together they drew up a support plan focusing on goals and opportunities. “My history, my life was chaotic,” she explains, “I never thought I’d be able to start thinking about creating a new life.”
She made the most of her time at the refuge, integrating with the community and gaining confidence. “That’s what it’s all about really. It was about using my time there well, until I was ready to move on. Being at the refuge gave me the chance to regroup myself and figure out who I actually was, which was very overwhelming. I’ve always been quite a strong person fortunately, and being there I felt like I found myself for the first time in my life.”
After six months at the refuge she felt ready to think about moving into her own home. “I’d been classed as homeless previously and actually hadn’t lived in a home of my own for over 10 years,” she said. “I was on the housing list and couldn’t believe it when I eventually heard there was one available. It was very emotional, but for me it felt like it was the right time.”
Explaining what supported housing means to her, Tia says:
“Refuges, like the one I was in, are life-saving. They are so important. They help you pick up the pieces from the bad situations that you’ve left. It is so easy to go back, so it’s about having the support to cross that line. At the same time you have to want to help yourself too. You get out of it what you put in, you have to be ready.”