Rosie* is age 24 and is now living the way she chooses independently in her own flat. With support from The Benjamin Foundation, she has successfully overcome several obstacles to reach this point and is now looking forward to a brighter future. However, this wasn’t always the case.
When she was aged 18, Rosie left home as she felt that she wouldn’t be accepted for the person she wanted to be. She moved across country, staying with people she did not like or get on with before securing a place at University.
However, Rosie says: “I always felt that I was not smart enough.”
Despite moving into a shared house with foreign exchange students, Rosie felt more alone than ever.
“I didn’t know anyone.” Rosie says.
She says at this time that she felt scared and alone and she was finding the course increasingly difficult. She was also was experiencing a significant decline in her mental health and emotional wellbeing.
“I felt all over the place.” She says.
Halfway through University, Rosie decided to withdraw from her course, with fears of not being accepted for who she truly wanted to be. At this time, she was going through a transition and would hide this from her peers, as she feared what their reaction would be. She would change into women’s clothes in an alleyway to avoid anyone finding out. She eventually felt she had to move out of the shared accommodation if she was going to live the way she wanted and be true to herself. Rosie then spent several years training her voice and continuing her journey to transition.
She then met a female partner and moved away to be with her, however Rosie’s situation deteriorated and she soon she felt trapped with no money, no support and at the mercy of her partner for food and board.
In the summer, Rosie decided to move back to East Anglia to live with a family member, which she says resulted in physical and verbal abuse as her family member struggled with Rosie’s transitioning and was unable to accept her as a female. However, she says that she spent 19 years trying to find herself so she wanted to continue to be true to herself so Rosie only stayed here for six weeks.
Over the next few years, Rosie moved around, sofa surfing staying with friends and then living in her car travelling the country for six months before a friend told her about The Benjamin Foundation’s Anchorage service.
“I was living very unhealthy and eating raw foods. I didn’t feel safe enough to beg on the street. I did what I could. I applied to The Benjamin Foundation and got a room with Anchorage in one of their shared accommodations. Anchorage saved my life as I would still be living in my car if it wasn’t for the service.” She says.
Anchorage provided Rosie with a safe space to be herself and continue with her transition, supporting her decisions and signposting to other agencies and providers for support and guidance. Her Support Worker, Beth also supported Rosie with her independence by developing and educating her on daily living skills.
Rosie was later offered a place of her own. When she had the keys to her own front door and moved into independent living, Beth then referred Rosie to the Tenancy Support Service provided by The Benjamin Foundation to help her navigate her way through the ever-increasing costs of living and setting up home. Erica, her Tenancy Support Worker worked with Rosie to set up her bills, direct debits and they worked together on budgeting money. Erica supported Rosie apply for Personal Independent Payments (PIP) and ensured she was getting the correct support from her GP.
Rosie continues to learn independent living skills. Due to the rising costs of living, she needs to access the local Foodbank on a regular basis, and recently the Tenancy Support Service were able to offer her a £50 food voucher kindly donated by Norfolk Household Support Fund. This has had a positive impact on Rosie both physically and mentally.
Rosie’s journey has been hard and she has come a long way over the last few years. She is now applying for jobs and is attending interviews, and is looking to a positive future in beauty therapy.
She says: “I finally feel that, although life is still a struggle, my mental health is improving and the support I’ve received has been good for me.”
*Name has been changed.
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