published on 19 Dec 2023
Eve, 37, grew up in Dublin. Her mum died when she was 12, leaving her and five siblings. Despite this she says: “I had a good childhood and a good life.”
In 2014 she met her partner, and they were married in 2018 and moved to York. The relationship broke down and Eve says: “I picked a place on the map to go, and it was Blackpool. I planned my leaving; I had a room in advance and a friend dropped me there and brought my stuff down. That was July last year.”
“I have an NVQ3 as a care worker and started working at a local nursing home, but I had a stroke and a heart attack while I was working. They called an ambulance, and I was in hospital for two weeks. I asked my landlord if he would take benefits as I couldn’t go back to work but when I came home from hospital, I found all my stuff in the garden. I ended up spending nine months under the North Pier.
“I didn’t know anywhere to go. It was horrible there and scary. I went for days without food, and I got raped. I’d not been homeless before and didn’t know what the processes were. When I went to Housing Options, they tried to get me back to Ireland, but I didn’t want to go.
"They said if I got a place, they would help me. I found a place last year but was evicted and then found somewhere else, where I’m still housed.
“Last year, I was in a café having breakfast and someone told me about The Salvation Army. I had no washing machine because I only received £200 in Universal Credit, and I was asking where I could do my laundry cheaply.
At The Salvation Army's Bridge Programme in Blackpool, Eve received a non-judgemental welcome and was supported with washing facilities and warm cooked meals."
She says: “I’ve been coming here ever since. I come here for everything; to do laundry, to socialise and to use the foodbank. If I need shampoo, they will help, or I can get clothes from the community wardrobe. They’ve also got me housing assistance by taking me through Section 21, which I knew nothing about.
“I’ve had access to a cookery course, literacy course and had support to update my qualifications for employability. They really support me here. My mental health is not great, and I get anxiety. I’m looking to get referred. In the meantime, coming here helps my mental health as I always have a laugh. I’m in a safe environment that reduces my isolation and loneliness. There is always a member of staff if I’m having a bad day and I have access to an NHS support worker.
“Two months ago, my dad died, and I couldn’t get home for the funeral. The captain did a service for me here at The Salvation Army and that was lovely and meant a lot.
“This place is a lifesaver. When it closes on Wednesdays I had nowhere to go so a month ago I set up my own community hub in a café and local people donate food. The first time, 60 people came and last week we had 70 people for a hot meal.
“I have been coming to The Salvation Army for a year now and I come every day it opens. I only have four toes on each foot and sometimes it is hard for me to walk. If I can’t get here, they will ring and check on me. They care if they don’t see me, and I feel cared about. Coming has been a positive experience, they are all amazing here."