Lucy had escaped homelessness to live in her own flat, and was working as a support-worker when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and she lost her job.

“I became homeless when I was 16. I’d fall out with my mum, my five brothers and sisters. It was chaotic. My dad took me to a homeless shelter where I stayed until I was 16. I moved to Margate, with my boyfriend, but he ended up running away. At the time, I didn’t know I was pregnant yet. Then I got arrested and sent to prison. I was arrested because a dog got into someone’s property and injured a person. It wasn’t mine, it was a dog I was looking after. I was in prison for six months.

“After getting out of prison, I lived in a mother-and-baby foster care centre for about two months. The authorities took my daughter from me, before my mum went to court and got special guardianship of her, so now she lives full-time with my mum.

“I bid on a flat with the council, where I’ve been for five years now. I live here with my two cats, Milo and Maisie. I see my daughter quite a lot now, sometimes three or four times a week. She’s stayed over at my house twice, now that lockdown is easing.

“I got a job. I was giving money to provide for my daughter and to help my mum. A couple of years ago, I was put in touch with Depaul UK and the iAspire project. They asked if I wanted help with food vouchers and helped me with my DBS checks for my job applications. It helped.

“For six months last year, I was a support worker with adults with disabilities in supported accommodation. I loved my job. I woke up every day so happy to know that I was going there. Having the job helped me feel more independent.

“I was doing 70-something hours a week, sometimes 14 hours a day. I’d get home, have four or five hours’ sleep and then I’m up and out the door again. I wanted to do a couple of part time jobs instead, so I had more flexibility. But because I didn’t tell them I was going to apply for another job, they let me go, no notice. I went back on to Universal Credit. I definitely noticed the difference, financially.

“I got another support worker role, which coincided with Covid. I would have been making £800 a month. I started there a week before lockdown began. They would normally contact me on a Friday and tell me my shifts, then all of a sudden they just cancelled all my shifts. I had only done one. They said they only wanted one or two staff members to come in. I wasn’t offered furlough or anything.

“I’ve been claiming Universal Credit again. I’ve got some advances that I need to pay off. For a while during lockdown I didn’t have to pay them, which helped, but they’ve kicked back in again now. I’ve been applying for more jobs, but I feel like my life right now is on a pause. I’ve been getting food parcels, because I haven’t got enough money, because I have to pay off my debts.

“I hope to get back into work, find a stable job again. I think that will help, with my personal life too, with my relationships and my family life. I think I’ll get a stable job and earn a stable wage. I’m a person to help people. So when the support worker role popped up, to help people, I thought, “I’ll give it a try”, and you know what, it was my best job. I wish I could go back there.”

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