The pressures and impact of multiple lockdowns and the pandemic are being felt by many people. Here, Rachel shares her story of how she became homeless during the first lockdown.  Rachel arrived at the Nightshelter during lockdown last year after experiencing a relationship breakdown. Age 62, she had never been homeless before.

“I used to enjoy a drink in the evening at home after work but in lockdown I began to count down to that time of the day. Each evening we would drink a bit more until one evening my husband and I got into an argument, it ended up with me being charged for common assault.

When I came to the Nightshelter, I felt like a rabbit in headlights. I am 62 years old, it is not where I expected to find myself. I asked myself what I was doing here, I have a nice home and family but I’d almost thrown it all away.

In actual fact, the Nightshelter turned out to be the best thing to happen to me. I stayed ten weeks and cried when I left. It becomes like a family, with so much help and support. I made lots of new friends and really hope to volunteer there one day.

During my stay I managed to break the habit and have stopped drinking. I have lost weight and am so much healthier. I know that I wouldn’t have been able to get better without the support that the Nightshelter gave me.

I have settled in back home now and I’m enjoying doing more things with my family. I am still going to counselling every two weeks at the Nightshelter which really helps. I also bake a cake each week for the residents, I really miss everyone.”

The Nightshelter provides not only a safe place to stay but also the support people need to rebuild. Our support continues when residents leave, sometimes it can be a bumpy path but we will always try and be a hand to hold.

To speak to someone about any concerns you have about your drinking or someone else’s drinking please visit the Drinkaware website or contact Inclusion in Winchester.

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