Lainey, 21, lives at one of our specialist women’s homes in North London. She’s studying animal management with dreams of being a vet and working with animals in the countryside. Lainey’s future looks bright now, but life has thrown many challenges at her. Her mum died when she was little and then her Nan and Grandad passed away when she was living with them. Lainey and her brother moved in with her auntie, but, as we hear a lot, family doesn’t always equal love and support. At just 16, Lainey was living on the streets with no-one to help her. 

“My auntie was verbally and physically abusive to me. Social services checked in, but all they saw was a clean house and food on the table and judged everything to be fine. They didn’t listen to me. They never took it seriously. I wish they understood more about abuse and that family can be very manipulating. If they did, maybe my brother and I would have got the help we needed. I felt I had no choice but to get away from the situation and area when I was 16.”

Over the next two years, I moved around. I spent time sleeping in my friend’s car and eventually found a block of flats to hide in. I didn’t have anyone close to rely on.  

One night I was raped in that block of flats. I went to social services for help, but they told me I’d chosen to leave home and wouldn’t do anything. I felt so alone and like no-one cared. But something kept me going. I just knew I had to get through each day.” 

Lainey eventually found her way to Single Homeless Project and was helped by Sophie, one of our Service Managers. Years later, Sophie is still Lainey’s Support Worker, and they have a strong relationship. 

“I met a lady who knew someone called Sophie at Single Homeless Project and she suggested I go to her for help. When I met Sophie, I was so shocked that someone wanted to help me. I got food, clothing and place to live straight away.  

I’m so happy I met her. Today, Sophie is like family to me. I know I can tell Sophie anything and she is never disappointed in me. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for her.” 

“Three years later, I’m now living in a home with only women. I finally feel safe. And because I feel safe, I have more energy, I’m open to doing more things and I’m not looking over my shoulder all the time. When I was staying in mixed hostels, I always felt like I was being watched.” 

Lainey is now living her life to fullest, throwing herself into new interests and passions. 

“I trained as a barista recently, taught myself how to tie dye clothes and I’m about to start a cookery skills course. I also have my first kitten, Patchie. He came to me with an eye infection, and I nursed him back to health. I feel proud of myself that I can look after him. I love animals. They don’t judge you and the love they show you isn’t fake.” 

Lainey says she’s seeing more and more young people on the streets these days and she worries for them. She wishes they could get help and that more people understood the realities of homelessness. 

“When you’re out and about, most homeless people you see on the streets are adults and often sitting on the ground Young people aren’t like that. We’re always walking around, but I can always spot someone who doesn’t have anything. I’d like to tell them that there is help out there and not to give up. There is light at the end of the tunnel.” 

Lainey also has a message for the public who see people who are rough sleeping.  

I know what it is like out there. Some people will look at you in a nasty way because you look dirty. I’d really like them to know that homelessness is harder than anyone thinks it is and to not judge people. You can go days without eating and sleeping. It’s really hard.” 

Lainey’s story of strength and resilience shows that people can come through homelessness and prosper. Homelessness is an experience, not a forever. 


Our research into women's homelessness shows that domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence are near universal experiences for women who experience homelessness. 

This means women navigate homelessness very differently to men and need services designed just for them and that support them to build on their resilience and strengths. 

Our women-only services are designed just for women and run by women. We work hard to build trusted relationships and create a sense of safety and security. We know that this creates the important building blocks for recovering from the traumatic experience of homelessness and looking forward to the future.