“Everyone asks you how you’ve been and what you’ve been up to and get excited to see you. We’re like a real community.”

- Sarah, aged 21

After Sarah lost her job, her situation quickly spiraled out of control and she needed support to get her life back on track. 

I had been renting a flat in Brighton but when I lost my job I couldn’t afford to pay the rent

I have no family around, so I started sofa surfing with friends, but after a while I ran out of people to stay with and spent two weeks rough sleeping. It was really scary. I slept under bridges, in parks. But I didn’t really sleep, I couldn’t. There’s lots of us rough sleeping in Brighton, so all the good spots are already taken. 

I had no money and relied on the free food the charities offer

I relied a lot on CTS for food as well. But I often had to get by on one meal a day and I lost lots of weight, it was intense. I’m trying to eat as much as I can now to gain it back. I use the kitchen here a lot and eat the food the volunteers cook in the kitchen. Coming to CTS everyday was really important because it helped to divide up my time and give me some structure when all the days were blurring into one because I wasn’t sleeping. I could rest here and I made some friends.

The most important part of CTS for me is just having somewhere you feel safe

When I had nowhere to go, and I was carrying all of my belongings around on my back, I could come and eat amazing food and have people to talk to. There’s a key worker who will work with you one on one, and helps you to put steps in place and helps you to achieve things. They help you with budgeting and managing your money, and they can tell you about programmes and courses you can do and help you organise that. It’s not just a shelter, it’s more like a community centre, and you can really thrive here. And they don’t just help you out and then close the doors, it’s like a continuous service, you can keep coming back even once you’ve been housed. Everyone asks you how you’ve been and what you’ve been up to, and get excited to see you. We’re like a real community.

This year has been such a roller coaster

I’ve been living on my own since I was 17 and I’ve had a tough time of it, especially these past couple years. But I’ve learned from it, I understand it all, and I know now how to keep myself secure and on the right track. I’ve learned how to not fall into old patterns. It’s made me independent and I’ve learned how to make smarter choices. It’s hard now, to look back at everything I’ve been through, but it’s useful too. CTS is a safety net for when you keep on falling down. It’s a lovely safe place you can go and talk to anyone about anything.

I’ve been housed now and it’s not as easy to come into CTS as much, but I still like to come back

The clubs and activities here are amazing, and they make it so easy for you. I love the yoga and I love the Women’s Group, that’s my favourite. We go out to a café with the two volunteers who run it, and we have a cup of tea and cake and a chat. Sometimes we get our nails done! It’s great, because they ask us what we want to do and we can hang out and have a bit of a natter. I like that it’s all women, it makes me feel safe and we can talk about anything with no judgement. I know that I can go there and not have to worry at all. I don’t need to come to CTS for the necessities so much anymore, but I come for the social side now. It’s just nice to come here to see some friendly faces.


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