“My parents divorced when I was four-years-old and I lived with my dad. He was strict but loving, although his partner was incredibly controlling. I felt suffocated, and at 12-years-old, I ran away to live with my mum.
It wasn’t long into living with her that I realised she was an alcoholic. Her new husband also had drinking problems and they would drink a box of wine or two in the evening. My personality changed from a well-mannered child to someone who was angry, upset and felt abandoned. I experimented with cannabis at 13-years-old and my mum didn’t try to stop me.
My mum’s relationship with her husband deteriorated. Arguments would escalate and she became a victim of domestic violence. On numerous occasions she left to live in refuges, but she would return and the cycle of violence would continue. Eventually, we were housed in a ‘mother and baby’ unit when I was 14.
Over the next couple of years, my mum’s drinking got even worse. She dated various alcoholics and again suffered domestic violence. When I was 16, a bailiff knocked on our door one morning. Mum hadn’t been paying the rent on our flat and we were thrown out immediately. I sat outside the block of flats waiting but my mum never returned.
I had been banned from my father’s house by his partner so I had nowhere to go. I slept rough for a few nights before social services pointed me towards Step by Step (then called Emmaus Project). That was 10 years ago now."
"I don’t think I can ever put into words how much Step by Step supported me. They gave me structure, care and a sense of belonging. I had regular one-to-one’s with keyworkers which were pivotal in growing my confidence. At first, I was going through every emotion on a daily basis – feeling alone, betrayed, shocked, numb, sad, helpless, angry. But now I felt like I was being supported and coached by people who cared.
I started to develop confidence. I got a job and a sense of independence. I used that feeling of achievement and empowerment to fuel me and keep me going in the right direction. That has stayed with me ever since.
Today, I am an Associate Director for a global recruitment company.
I am extremely proud to have joined the board of trustees at Step by Step, meaning I am involved in deciding how the charity is run. It is very rare for someone helped by a charity to then become a trustee. I have the opportunity to shape our services to help young people in a similar position to I was when Step by Step helped me.”
I don’t think I can ever put into words how much Step by Step supported me.