Sheffield homeless charity Roundabout brings hope to Shauna
Shauna Stubbs, 22, of Sheffield, found herself homeless at 17 after family relationships became strained following the death of her mother.
She has since turned her life around and gained full-time employment with Roundabout, the local charity who helped her get back on her feet.
She writes here about her experiences and how her life has changed.
Life became difficult after my mum died from illness when I was nine years old.
Three years later we lost my nannan, who was the glue that held our family together.
The loss of two strong matriarchs as I approached my teenage years left me bereft, with few female role models to turn to.
Being left at home with my dad and older brother was hard. My dad and I would often end up in arguments because we didn’t know how else to communicate.
The need to leave home was more on my part. When I began sofa surfing at friends’ houses I kept it quiet as I didn’t want anyone to think my dad was the reason I left.
A Roundabout key worker often found me staying with a friend at one of their resettlement properties, which was breaking the rules!
I didn’t think of myself as homeless and it wasn’t until I began receiving support from Roundabout that the realisation dawned.
They accommodated me at their hostel but I was panicky about what I expected to find - a frightening, messy place full of drugs and alcohol - but I was wrong.
I had a room in a homely flat with another girl who made me feel comfortable immediately and eventually I got my own property through Roundabout where I paid subsidised rent.
I continued to work, while juggling childcare studies at college, but something had to give and I dropped out of my course.
I went on to an apprenticeship in business admin but realised it wasn’t for me, leaving myself with a lack of direction.
Things began to look up once I turned 18. I got my own property through the council and life started to change thanks to mediation sessions at Roundabout.
My mediator, Cheryl, helped me understand why I reacted the way I did with my dad and I learned to try and see things from his perspective.
The relationship between my dad and me started to improve as our communication strengthened. I didn’t tell him until later about mediation and when I did he was shocked!
He’d noticed a change in my attitude but didn’t know why, so it was a healing process for us.
It’s support I wish I’d had access to sooner as I think it could have made a difference.
Another thing that helped me grow was my involvement in Roundabout’s Peer Education team.
I was trained to deliver lessons in schools to help break down stereotypes around homelessness and raise awareness of what young people should do if they have to leave home and need support.
Being a Peer Educator meant I could speak about my experiences in order to help others, which allowed me to gain confidence.
I also made some of my best friends through being part of the team.
We often get asked the same questions in lessons, such whether I talk to my dad and what the hostel’s like, but there was one occasion when a student sought me out for advice about their own circumstances.
It hit me that I was seen as someone they could trust and I realised that helping young people in this way was my dream job.
I went on to apply for a job as a residential support worker at Roundabout earlier this year. I wasn’t successful but the interview experience was invaluable.
To my delight a similar role came up soon after and I was awarded the position - I screamed when they told me!
The icing on the cake is that I’ve been able to move back home with my dad. For the first time in my life I feel settled.
My ambition now is to further my education with an NVQ and eventually a degree.
I also want to do more to give back to Roundabout, so I’m volunteering at their Sleep Out challenge in November, which gives a small insight into challenges faced by young people at risk of homelessness.
Participants are sponsored to brave a cold night on the floor.
I’ve attended before as a speaker but I’ve always wanted to take part in the whole challenge. I’m excited but apprehensive as I hate being cold!
Sleep Out takes place on November 8 at 92 Burton Road in Kelham Island and I would encourage anyone who can to take part.
Because Roundabout is a small charity you can see exactly where your money goes - if 100 people took part and raised their target sponsorship of £150 each, we’d raise £15,000, which would allow us to deliver homeless education lessons to all Year 10s in Sheffield schools. I really hope to see you there!
*To find out more about the charity and the event, go online at roundabouthomeless.org
Roundabout is South Yorkshire’s youth homeless charity, supporting young people aged 16-25. The charity works with over 250 young people every day, providing shelter, support and life skills to help them gain independence.