Homelessness in London Guest stories Emily's story After months of of sleeping on the streets in South West London with nothing but a mat and sleeping bag, Emily* came to Glass Door after finally admitting to herself she needed help. Her timing was good: the winter shelters were about to open, and she made sure to be first in the queue when new guests were registering for shelter places. Emily's last job was as a live-in housekeeper and nanny, and when the relationship went sour, she was left without a home and an income. “I realise now I put all my eggs in one basket.” For a while, Emily stayed at inexpensive hostels, but she couldn’t find another job before her savings ran out. “There’s only so long you can sleep on friends’ couches,” she adds. Without a husband or children, Emily was adrift. Her parents died seven years ago within a year of each other. “I lost my foundation. I lost my anchor in life,” Emily says. She realises now she has been in a prolonged state of grieving. “[Losing my parents] is the hardest thing I’ve had to live through.” When I walked through the glass door of the drop-in, that’s when things started to turn around,” says 47-year old Emily. “Coming to Glass Door, that was the moment in time when things changed. It had taken Emily a few months to even admit to herself she was homeless. “Because I don’t look like what someone typically thinks a homeless person is supposed to look like, I think I was in denial.” With long blond hair, clean nails and a fashionable outfit, nothing but Emily’s extra bags give away her homeless status. She has worked hard to find places like public pools to bath. “The biggest challenges [of sleeping rough] are around safety and hygiene,” Emily adds. The stability afforded by the night shelters has helped Emily turn things around. “Two major things have been the real breakthrough," she says. "On a daily basis, I don’t have to worry about my safety. And because I can enjoy the meals, I don’t have to worry about food. I am more relaxed. I have the key fundamentals, so now I am able to focus on employment and finding solutions.” Glass Door caseworker Neil then helped her apply for identification documents, some of which had been stolen or expired during her time on the street. When you lose your ID, it’s another piece of your identity gone,” she notes. “Being homeless, it chinks at your confidence. Next, Glass Door employability coordinator Jay helped Emily get her CV in order. She has already applied for a few jobs and gone on two interviews. She’s hopeful they will pan out. One is ready to hire her and just need a copy of her identification documents, which are due to arrive any day now. “I’m so pleased I found Glass Door,” says Emily. Hope has returned to my life. I really found I had lost hope. It’s a new day. *note: Emily's name has been changed to protect her anonymity.