Guest blog by Shandor Nikitits
My name is Shandor. This time last year, I was made homeless.
The exact circumstances are not relevant, but it’s fair to say that at a very defining moment – 10:25 on Thursday 11 July 2013. I spiralled, setting off a chain of events that place me before you today.
I vividly remember reading the letter informing me that my lodgings were terminated, and I would need to vacate by 1 March, 2017. I was suddenly very scared and began to worry: where would I sleep? How would I cook food? How would I wash and clean myself? I dreaded being seen as someone who can’t look after themselves, a person shunned by society.
My real fear was for my son, Billy: where would he sleep? There was no way I was going to give him up, but it would be utterly barbaric to put him in the same situation that I currently found myself in.
Asking for help
The way I was treated by various councils was a farce. Originally, I applied for assistance with my local council, only to be refused. They told me to apply to a different council, but when I then spoke to them, they said that as I approached another council first, I was its responsibility. When I went back to first one, they said that the second council tried ‘that old trick’ to duck out of its responsibility.
The night before I was made homeless, my local council got in touch again and told me to go to a homeless shelter. I followed their advice and was relieved to have a mattress to sleep on and a roof over my head.
There was a mix of characters at the hostel – alcoholics, people experiencing mental health issues, war veterans, and drug users. There were some very lovely people there too, but due to poor behaviour of some inmates (for that’s how it felt – a bleak, cold, soul-destroying prison), I requested a transfer to another block, primarily for Billy’s safety.
I put a lot of effort into making the room we were given into a home for Billy and me, but I could see the stress and strain was having a negative effect on him. I have no idea how he saw it affecting me.
Sharing my story
I decided to get in touch with Shelter. They sometimes ask people to get in touch with their stories, so they can help make bad housing and homelessness a thing of the past – and show others they’re not alone in what they’re going through.
After a brief chat, I found out that they were interested in using my story in a campaign. Although I was homeless, I considered myself one of the lucky ones, because I felt (and still feel) that there are others out there worse off than me. If I could make the difference to just one person, that was all I cared about.
I was first approached by Shelter to do an interview/video for their Christmas campaign. I was rather nervous that I wasting their time – I didn’t see my ‘story’ as important. Who would want to see that anyway?
I kept on reminding myself that there were people worse off than me and if I could help at least one person, then it would all be worth it…
Look out for the second part of Shandor’s story, coming to our blog next week.