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When Hellen's* marriage ended and she had exhausted all options with friends, she ended up rough sleeping in Sloane Square. When she came to Ace of Clubs and met Caroline, a Glass Door Caseworker, she stayed in our women's winter night shelter until she found a new place to live. 

*Hellen's name has been changed to protect her identity. 

I came to London and I had an arranged marriage when I was 17, I didn’t know my husband before we got married. I didn't know anything about this country, I didn’t speak any English, nothing. It was like living nothing.  

I didn’t go out, I was scared to go anywhere. London is so big. In our country, it's a small village. You know everyone.  

When I came here, I disappeared. 

I lived with my husband for 6 years, and then I got a divorce. After that I struggled. I worked as a carer which I enjoyed because I love to help people, but my income was too low so every agency I asked wouldn’t let me rent a house. I asked my local council, but they didn’t help either.  

I asked one of my ex-husband's friends if he would let me live with him because he owned his own house, and he said yes. I helped him with cooking and cleaning, things like that. But eventually in 2023 he got married and I had to move out.  

I had to try the agencies again, but everywhere I went, every agency I called asked me for a guarantor. The office where I was cleaning said they would be my guarantor, but it wasn’t accepted, it didn’t help.  

After that, I was homeless. One friend let me stay for two weeks, a different friend for a week, but then I had no one left to ask. I would sit on the bus until they stopped it in the middle of the night. 

For four nights in December I slept in Sloane Square station. It was very cold. 

After that, my friend told me about Glass Door, he said maybe they could help me. So I went and met Caroline. She asked if I needed somewhere to stay, and I said yes. She found me a space in the Women’s Shelter the same day.  

I stayed in the shelter for two months and three days – it was good there, very good. In the daytime I would go to work, and then I would come to the shelter at night. We got very good food every night, and the people were so nice, the staff and volunteers and other guests. I found women who were from the same country as me and we made friends. Everyone was welcoming.  

Before then, even when I was staying at my friend’s house, I would just go to work, come back, go to work, go to church, come back. It was like this always, I didn’t know anything else. At the shelter I made a lot of friends, and I still talk to them. They’re really nice. 

I think if I hadn’t found the night shelter, I would have had to sleep outside for maybe two months. Imagine two months outside. 

While I was there, Caroline was helping me find somewhere to live. Every day she would send me a viewing, but a lot of them were too far from my job. And then she found me somewhere closer, in a similar area to where I was before. She helped me with everything I needed to do to move in, she was so lovely.  

The first time I came to Glass Door was the first time I got help. I had been struggling since I got married, and was fighting for myself.  

I’m thankful to the friend who gave me somewhere safe to stay, I still thank him now, because I didn’t know anything about the system. I didn’t even know how to work, whereas now I try to know about everything. I didn’t even know how to pay a bill. Caroline helps me with that now, and a lot of things. She helped me apply for Universal Credit. Caroline is very caring and helpful, and she understands and listens to me. 

Now, I feel really happy, I feel free. I can sleep properly, I feel safe and I can cook for myself and eat well. I was so tired when I came to Glass Door, I often couldn’t find food – every night was different. If I found food, from a shop or something, it was cold.

Now I can cook myself hot meals. Now I feel confident.