Lena* became homeless at just 16 years old. Her parents were separated and due to a combination of mental health and financial issues were not able to support her. Her mum had paid the rent on a flat for Lena, but after losing her income due to COVID, could no longer afford to pay for this. Lena was forced to leave and found herself without a home at a vulnerable age.

Lena was a keen and proficient student. She was studying Biology, Criminology and Sociology, and was expected to get A or B grades. However, she was not able to attend college without money and a stable to place to live.

Fortunately, Step by Step were able to help her. Lena was given a place in our Supported Lodgings service living with a host family. A Support Worker was on hand to assess Lena’s needs and together they formulated a plan to help her meet her goals.

With support from the host and Step by Step team, Lena applied for Universal Credit and got a college bursary so that she could continue the studies that meant so much to her.

Lena lacked confidence and was very shy, and initially spent a lot of time in her room. But her host was patient and understanding, and they soon developed a good relationship. When Lena had some health issues, the host and Support Worker acted in place of parents in taking her for hospital appointments and supporting her through an operation.

This is a fantastic example of how Supported Lodgings is more than just a roof over a head; young people are supported as though part of a caring family, with a focus on setting goals and reaching their full potential.

Lena did very well in her college exams and was offered a scholarship for university. She is now enjoying her studies and lives independently with a bright future ahead of her.

In Lena’s own words: “I am excited and scared about the future, but feel more confident to deal with it.”

* Name changed to respect privacy

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