After being made homeless, learn how supported housing helped Gemma stand on her own two-feet.
“I was in my early twenties and living with my dad and brother. My mum was never around and I was having a few issues at home – me and my brother didn’t along and as I was getting older, I needed my own place.
“I had never lived on my own before. I ended up crashing on a few friends sofas but needed my own space. I went to the council and told them I was homeless and they put me in touch with Cotswold House.
“I was a bit of a rebel! I used to stay up drinking and I was hanging out with the wrong people. I also had a lot of anger issues stemming from my childhood. I was a bit of a mischief maker and the first few days and weeks at Cotswold House were tough
“When I arrived here all I had was the clothes on my back. I was scared and nervous. I’m a quiet person and it can take me a while to open up to people . There were a few incidents – one girl really wound me up and I ended up smashing things up. The staff were trying to help me but I thought I knew best.
“But they never gave up on me. Together, we looked at the issues and different techniques to curb my temper. They also sorted me out with a counsellor which helped me deal with the stuff I had going on in my life. I knew a couple of the girls who were staying here and they introduced me to people in the group. Slowly I began to come out of my shell and grow in confidence.
“The staff were brilliant. I kept having ups and downs but they were always here to help and support me. I also have learning difficulties which means I struggle sometimes with reading and writing. They put me on a few courses that really helped with my literacy and I also had help with my CV and interview skills.
“All in all I spent two years at Cotswold and it really helped me. They allowed me to be independent but I always knew they would be here for me when I needed them. I was was ready to move into my own home, which is just around the corner form Cotswold House.
“I have had a few bumps on the way, but I love where I live. It took me a while to get used to things and get myself sorted, but I’ve been living on my own now for the past four years. I also have a steady job and that’s down to the staff at Cotsworld House believing in me. I’m also a lot better and dealing with my anger issues - I know I can now walk away for situations
“If it wasn’t for Cotswold House I would be living on the streets. I can’t thank the staff enough for everything they’ve given me. I know I can always pop down the road for a chat or any help and advice when I need them.”
Lesley Sharratt is a support worker with Weaver Vale Housing Trust and has worked with Gemma over the years.
Lesley said: “Gemma can come across as very confident person, but deep down it takes a lot for her to open up and trust people
“The change I have seen in Gemma has been remarkable. When she first came to Cotswold, she had a lot of anger issues and it took us a while to get through.
“But she has come on leaps and bounds. She’s in a much better place now and the fact that she’s sustained both her tenancy and job speaks volumes. One of the big things with Gemma is that she couldn’t say no – and people took advantage of that. She’s become independent now and she is capable of making here own choices and decisions.
“We are still here for Gemma when she needs us, and I’m thrilled to see her doing so well."