In from the streets

first_imgWe carried on as best as we could. My boyfriend became my full-time carer. I continued working but I was having seizures in front of clients, and I was eventually told they had to let me go. I still had six months to wait for a CT scan at the hospital. I had no income, and I had no contact with my parents at all.Things started to get difficult, and eventually we were evicted from our house. This is when it all fell apart; we were homeless. We went to Oxford City Council for advice many times, but we weren’t given any information to help us understand what we needed to do, and we felt ignored and alone.The worst incident was waking up in the shower room of the shelter, having hit my head during an epileptic fit. I had been lying there alone for an hour, which could have been the last hour of my life.We couldn’t stay there; the shelter had no medical provision or any knowledge of an illness like epilepsy. I was told by the helpers that now that I had a routine and a roof over my head I should be more stable and my fits should stop. They didn’t; they just got worse. Having medical needs didn’t seem to make my appeal for housing any more urgent.We found ourselves moving into a squat, then we moved on to a garage. Again we went to the council so I could register for incapacity benefits. We were told we couldn’t register as officially homeless until we had been living on the streets for six months. Only a voluntary organisation called Street Services eventually helped us. They met with us, advised us on housing, counselling and medical help.One night I had a very serious seizure and fell and broke my nose and a rib and burst a blood vessel in my eye, which left me bedridden for weeks. Our Street Services advisor had left Oxford and we were referred to the Elmore Team, who said they couldn’t help us. Once again we felt like we had gone back to the beginning. We ended up sleeping on the doorstep of a church. This left us open to the elements and feeling almost ready to give up.Through the summer, we bought a tent and ended up staying by the river. It’s frightening; you spend all night awake worrying someone will walk by and disturb you. The fear and stress triggered seizures throughout the night.We eventually received a message from Street Services. The advisor who has been working with us had returned; he met with us, marched us into the council and demanded we be housed immediately due to our situation.That evening we were handed the keys to our new house. This was eight months after we were initially evicted.When I was working, I used to be blind about the issue of homelessness.I was wrapped up in my work, never thinking that one day it would be me. What happened to me has made me more aware of the homeless situation, especially for young people with medical needs, and I hope the problem of homelessness in Oxford is more acknowledged, despite its reputation.Up until two years ago, my life was completely normal. My boyfriend and I both had good jobs and were living in shared accommodation, like many young people in Oxford. One evening I was mugged, beaten and almost sexually assaulted, and that’s where my epilepsy started. Epileptic seizures are almost like being knocked out, you feel disorientated, and can wake up hours later having not known what’s happened to you.ARCHIVE: 2nd week MT 2005last_img