From living alone at 17, Lisa has just won a YJB prize for her youth work
I was 17 when I got my own place. I was with a few mates before that, just sofas and that sort of thing, which was horrible because I never knew where I was going to spend the next night. I felt quite unwanted and like I had nowhere to go, which wasn’t nice.
My mum kicked me out which is why I ended up living on sofas. My stepdad was an alcoholic and quite pervy and when I told her about it she wouldn’t believe me, even though she was there when it happened. She just got really defensive and kicked me out. I’m gutted about the relationship with my mum because I used to be really close to her. She kicked my sister out too when she was only 16.
I’m finding it hard and expensive having my own house. Budgeting and paying my bills is easy, but it’s not nice doing it, because I never had to do it before, but now I’m coping alright – although it leaves me a bit short sometimes. I have quite a bit of support. I have foundation housing and a youth service which helps me out if I need help with my money, or just someone to chill with when I’m a bit bored, so they help a lot.
I suppose I am coping. I don’t feel depressed or anything, but sometimes I do wish I could go back a couple of years and change things and sort stuff out with my mum and that sort of thing.
Money is really tight. The Jobcentre ‘forgot’ to pay me and gave me a crisis loan of £40 to last two weeks, but usually I get £50 a week. Out of that I pay £20 for electric and £10 for the TV licence. I’m meant to be getting a bursary from college of about £40 a week soon too. Two months ago my hot water stopped and the council didn’t really help, they just kept blaming me, saying I wasn’t around when they called, but I know they didn’t call. They still haven’t been round and I’m still without hot water. I’m coping because there’s an electric back up system, but it’s really expensive – about six or seven pounds for a bath.
I don’t feel I’m getting much YOT support. They’re actually really starting to wind me up now! They just don’t seem to want to talk to me at all. It’s like they only want to talk to me if I’m in trouble. I’m still on an order until next April and I don’t feel I’m getting the right support.
I’ve got other activities I’m involved with though. Obviously I like doing User Voice, and an education worker has got me doing a charity thing for old people – I cooked them a Christmas dinner at Christmas. I really love doing that sort of work.
I had a great time at the Youth Justice Board convention too. I always do. I was presented by the YJB with an award for the girls’ group I’m involved with, which felt really good. It shows they really do listen and that the girls’ group is doing some good. I’m going to put the £500 prize towards a local community project, doing up a street. I’m going to be in the local paper again too, so yeah, I’m really proud of myself!
Taken from Issue 19