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Life Story

Posted by Sue Burgess · 4 min read

I was born in 1977 and experienced a turbulent and frustrating time at home. There were many arguments at home and I used to sit at the top of the stairs and listen to them. I am the youngest of 7 children with the next oldest just one year older than me. At weekends and to cope with the arguments I used to be out of the house in the woods and fields looking into what nature was around me. I did not have a good time at school, I was bullied and felt that I did not fit in. I kept myself isolated. I could not read properly or understand mathematics and was always looking over my shoulder for the bullies who sometimes were waiting for me at the school gates. I think that bullying was about my build, I was very skinny and especially in P.E. classes I was made fun of. I would not stand up for myself as I would not fight and this is the case today. In the 4th year things changed for me and I found that I had a skill in art. I could explore how I felt in colours and in painting. I excelled in this subject and gained an A+ at GCSE level in art. The creative side of me is strong and I like making things, drawing and investigating. I want to find the truth in things which I believe stems from my interest in nature. After I left school I spent most of my time on the river bank, fishing. If I was not doing that then I was visiting local churches or up in my bedroom or in the woods. Eventually my dad said that I had better get a job. I still felt a loner and segregated due to the arguments at home. I did not have any friendships as I did not know who to trust and I built a brick wall around me. I thought of becoming a hairdresser but after starting the course did not feel in place at the college. I then got on a YTS course in Welding and Fabricating. I enjoyed that because I was making things and being creative and got my NVQ. After that things went downhill. My sister left and then I left. My dad was very, very strict and I felt pushed away, further and further. I left and slept on the streets. I met up with some people who I thought would be my friends but I got into taking drugs. I think I was easily led at that time. My mum and dad eventually came across me and were worried at my physical condition and I was taken back home when I was 17/18. I thought I should sort myself out and went on an apprenticeship making fire surrounds. I was let down by the boss as I turned up one morning to find the place closed and I was not paid. I then moved around visiting Colchester and Leicester and ended up in a homeless shelter. I did not go back home as nothing I seemed to do worked for me and I did not want to remain a burden to them. I lived in the YMCA and met two supposed mates and a girl who I settled down with and had a two children, Jordan and Sophie. This happened so fast but my partner had an affair with one of my friends and I left home. I was on the streets again after I had worked my way up to being a Marketing Manager with a home and two lovely children. I started to use drugs and alcohol again and moved around sometimes sleeping on peoples sofas. I then got myself into car valeting and had another relationship and then had Maire who is now 6. That relationship did not work and I was on the street again. This was a painful period in my life which is difficult for me to talk about. I have tried to resume contact with my children and send them birthday and Christmas cards. I left in the main because I did not want them to experience the arguments that I had to experience when I was at home. I then received a phone call from my mum to say that my dad had left her, she was very tearful and I then made the decision to come down to this part of the world to help her. When I came down here I realised that I had to get off drugs and alcohol as I was just going around in circles. I needed to make the change although it was difficult and I was in a lot of debt. Within 3 weeks of coming to Hastings after the phone call from my mum I contacted Seaview to see what help and advice I could get and it was the best move I made. Seaview helped me learn to read and write properly. It helped change my life. I went and followed up all the advice they gave me and now I have a beautiful flat which I moved into about a year ago. I am still on my own which I think is best but I visit my mum on most days of the week. Instead of not being listened to and shrugged off I feel that I am now someone. My future is looking after my mum and to involve myself with charity work as I have learned a lot in my life about being on your own with no one to be interested in you. My dream job would be to become a Deacon and make mum proud, and help those who are struggling.

Being homeless and sleeping rough leading to permanent accommodation

Posted by Seaview Project · 2 min read

Anyone reading this article who has been homeless and slept rough should appreciate the following. I myself was only homeless and sleeping rough for a short period of time, I cannot imagine what it must be like to be long-term homeless and sleeping rough and not having money in your pocket to buy regular food and meals, just relying on charitable organisations such as The Salvation Army, HARC, and in our case the excellent Seaview Project.

My homelessness and sleeping rough was through personal experiences, but for many people it’s not an option they have the luxury of, we are all human and have feelings and emotions, which we all deal with in our own way, but whatever they are and how we deal with them, it doesn’t alter the fact it isn’t nice to be homeless and sleeping rough. One of the worst things for myself were the looks and comments made by passing members of the public, some of them not very nice to put it mildly. I just let them ride over my head, mostly made out of total ignorance of the plight of the homeless, I myself am lucky in that I have lived in Hastings all my life, and have family and friends who have supported me in the past and in the present, whilst being homeless and sleeping rough.

It was my decision to become homeless and sleep rough as I didn’t want to intrude on their normal routines even though they offered on several occasions to give me a roof over my head with a bed. I had some very low points, feeling depressed and feeling sorry for myself, but on my own it gave me time to reflect on my past and the huge mistakes I had made in the past to the situation I now had myself in, I said to myself the only person who could get me out of this hole I had dug for myself was myself. It’s no good sitting there and waiting for help to come to you, with some excellent advice and guidance from the Seaview staff (who have helped many people get back on the straight and narrow since opening back in the mid 1980s) I started to get my life back to normal.

All the problems and grief I have put upon my family and friends in the past have mostly been caused by one thing and that is the demon alcohol, but there are other causes which affect people in different ways, with self determination and the support from my family, friends, Seaview staff, and Action for Change alcohol addiction, I have got off the drink and am determined 100% to stay off it, I owe it to myself and more importantly to the people who have helped and stuck by me through this period. I have many bridges to cross and rebuild in the coming days and months ahead of me, it won’t be easy but hopefully I will get there.

If you have been in my position now or in the past and want to get away from that kind of life, believe me it can be done if that is what you truly want, all the best to everyone who is on that road to recovery.