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6 April 2020

Nancy*, a British woman in her 50s, was one of 123 Glass Door shelter guests who moved into a hotel to self-isolate. She tells us what this means to her.

"At first I slept on the floor because I felt I wasn’t worth this luxury. That’s how low I felt."

“But I am slowly becoming myself again. I can turn the light off. I can do a bit of meditation. I have the space to be me now. It’s a process.”

On 23 March, Nancy was checked by a health professional for symptoms of COVID-19 and then driven in a taxi to a hotel. She is now staying in a hotel that is suitable for her needs, along with all of the other guests who were previously staying in Glass Door shelters. This is part of a government-led plan to give people facing homelessness a chance to self-isolate.

Glass Door and St Mungo’s staff are on hand at the hotels to ensure that guests continue to get the support they need.

Nancy says:

This hotel is beautiful. It has given me time to reflect.

“I’ve been reflecting on my childhood. My Mum would make jerk chicken and rice and peas and there would be such community around me. I want to have a life where my friends are around me again."

I cannot buy that life back, but I hope that, as a society, we learn a real lesson about community from this pandemic.

In mid-March, Nancy was hired as a contract worker through an agency. She had been staying in the Wandsworth night shelters and was planning to move into a hostel so she could more easily travel to work.

 “I was cleaning the house of an elderly man who had problems with his knees,” said Nancy. “One day the man told me not to come anymore because of coronavirus.”

Nancy remained on the agency’s books. But without work coming in, she could not afford to pay for accommodation. So she remained in the Glass Door night shelters in Wandsworth.

“It was somewhere to sleep and a good basic meal. And I could manage to keep clean”.

“But outside the shelters, I was treated like rubbish. I liked to sit and do crosswords in public squares and security guards would insult me and tell me to move on”.

“I’ve always tried to be helpful and courteous to other people, even when my life is crumbling. I have worked all my life and then this is how I was treated on the streets. I told myself that it wasn’t my fault, but it was hard.”

Nancy tells me that her dream now is to have a place of her own in the countryside. She has been told that her job is still available to her as soon as the lockdown is lifted. She hopes to start saving money then for a place of her own.

And Glass Door has done so much for me. If I could make a donation to Glass Door, it would be a huge one.

 “This crisis needs to change a lot of people’s ways of thinking. We need to remember to support each other.”


*Nancy’s name has been changed and a representative photo used to protect her privacy.

To provide support to someone like Nancy and make a long-term difference in the life of someone affected by homelessness, consider supporting our Covid-19 Emergency Appeal