We need to talk about… shame

CW: emotional pain, bullying, emotional abuse, self-destructive behaviour, anxiety


Why do we need to talk about shame?

Shame is a normal human emotion that most people feel in varying degrees.

It becomes problematic when it starts to negatively affect our thoughts, emotions and behaviour, and so also our mental health, our self-esteem, and how we function.

I only recently discovered the extent to which shame has affected me. I realised it had fuelled the majority of my actions, emotions, and thoughts for a vast chunk of my life, and was most likely what kept me in cycles of self-destruction and pain.

Learning how to recognise and take control of this powerful but elusive human emotion has made a huge difference to my self-esteem, how I deal with anxiety-producing situations, and how able I am to engage with other people and feel confident to reach for the things I want in life.

It can be painful to learn about at first, but I think it is important that more people are aware of shame and how it affects them, and that we talk about it more. If I had learned about shame years ago, I might have been released from cycles of pain long ago.


What is it?

I realised recently that I didn’t actually know what shame was and how important it can be. I had always equated it with embarrassment and self-consciousness. It is similar, but much more powerful and potentially damaging to your self-esteem and mental health.

Feeling shame is feeling really bad about your worth and adequacy as a person, and often incredibly self-conscious about it at the same time. It is a disabling and debilitating emotion that can lead to us feeling that we are intrinsically flawed, bad, and unworthy of love or inclusion by others.

Feeling shame doesn’t mean you have done something bad. If you are feeling bad about something you have done, that is more likely to be guilt. Guilt can be easier to deal with because it tends to be due to something specific that has happened, and we are more likely feel an urge to talk about it with others and perhaps try to make amends in some way.

Shame is more often felt when you haven’t done anything wrong, for example feeling it due to how you look or for who you feel you are as a person. We are much less able to talk about shame because it is so tied up with our feelings of the bad or flawed person that we might feel we are inside.

Shame makes us want to hide away or hide parts of ourselves, because it is such a deep and painful emotion that makes us feel incredibly vulnerable.

It is important to know that shame is not about blame. It is not because of something you have done. We can feel bad about ourselves due to strict standards we hold ourselves to, but shame more often starts due to how we are treated by others or due to difficult situations we have found ourselves in.

If you feel deep shame, it could be due to having been mistreated, put down, made to feel small, or like you are in some way unacceptable, undesirable, unworthy, or defective. If this was particularly painful, you can internalise the shame and it can stay with you for years, even a lifetime.

Shame is such a powerful emotion that it can cause us to react in strong ways in order to cope with how painful it feels inside us.


The Compass of Shame

These strong reactions are best explained using a model called The Compass of Shame (Nathanson (1992)).

This is one of the most useful concepts I have come across and I was able to recognise myself in it instantly.

It shows four ways that people tend to react when feeling shame. You may find you do any number of these in any combination and also may react using different ones at different times.



  • Withdrawal – wanting to isolate yourself, avoiding relationships, people and situations
  • Attack Self – negative self-talk, being mean to yourself, self-hate and self-loathing
  • Avoidance – denial, self-destructive actions, thrill-seeking, substance abuse
  • Attack Others – blaming others, lashing out at others

We all feel shame but when we have internalised shame over a long period of time it can have a much bigger hold on us and our reactions on the compass are more likely to have become ingrained coping mechanisms.

I immediately related to the ‘attack self’ and ‘withdrawal’ compass points, and I had definitely spent a large part of my life using ‘avoidance’ to cope.

All that time, I hadn’t consciously known what it was I was avoiding, what I was withdrawing from, or what I was attacking myself over.  All I knew was that I was in pain and that I felt really bad about myself.

Understanding what has been going on all these years has made such a difference to how I am able to function today, and how I treat myself.


How to spot shame in yourself.

I have had terrible social anxiety for over 20 years now, but I only just discovered that shame has actually been a major driving force behind it.

It was a personal revelation.

The thing about shame is that it is sneaky and that it likes to keep a low profile. It hides underneath other emotions such as anger and anxiety. It stays powerful by staying hidden.

It was only when I learned about shame in my psychology sessions that I discovered how to spot it.

This is what I discovered shame looked like for me:

When I was around others, whether they were strangers or good friends, I would begin to feel really bad about myself and my inadequacies as a person. I would get loads of negative self-talk going around my head, criticising me and telling me what a worthless person I was, beating myself up for the things I had said and making me feel like crap.

I would feel physically sick with self-disgust and self-loathing so intense that I couldn’t even look people in the eye. I would desperately want to leave the situation, not out of fear I realise now, but out of feelings of such deep inadequacy and unworthiness to exist, let alone be around others.

I used to think this was all just part of my anxiety, but after looking at The Compass of Shame, I realised that it was deep-seated shame that was leading me to ‘attack self’ and ‘withdraw’.

Noticing that was the beginning of a process of slowly removing and releasing the shame I had internalised and had been feeling for so long.

I still get anxiety. It still makes me feel hot and shaky; my heart beats fast, and my mouth goes dry. I can’t stop moving my body and I feel awkward and uncomfortable, but it is much more bearable than it used to be. This is because now it is largely a physiological reaction and not an emotional one.

Separating shame from anxiety has radically changed how I am affected by social situations.

Are you able to recognise any of the actions and reactions in the Compass of Shame as underpinning your emotions?

If yes, you may be carrying internalised shame.


How I began to release internalised shame.

Name it and acknowledge you’re feeling it.

Learning to spot shame was the first thing. Next, I began to label it as such and acknowledge that I was feeling it.

Whenever the negative self-talk would start up in the middle of a situation, or feelings of self-loathing, I would note it and then say to myself: “I am feeling shame”.

Acknowledging the fact that you are feeling shame in the moment immediately takes power away from it.

This is because shame works though opinions, such as ‘I’m a worthless person’. If you reject opinions in favour of a fact ‘I am feeling shame’, the opinions lose their power.

It also puts it into context: I am not thinking/feeling this stuff because I am a bad, unworthy person, I am thinking/feeling it because I am feeling shame.

And remember, feeling shame is normal and human and is not your fault. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you.

Shame thrives on being unseen and as soon as you start to notice and point at it, it weakens. It also thrives on (crappy) opinions, so when you start to challenge them, they don’t tend to hold their own for long.


Challenge the ‘shame scripts’.

My psychologist and I made a list of all the things that my negative self-talk (also known as my ‘shame scripts’) was saying. It included:

“You’re weird and no one will ever like you”, “you’re a joke”, “no one cares what you have to say”, “you don’t deserve to be here”, “you’re nothing” … etc.

When I looked at what I had written in front of me, I noticed that all these phrases were things that I had been told or made to feel when I was a child and young teen. Decades later, I was still being plagued it.

It made me realise how long I had carried all this stuff, which was never mine to begin with, and how it had continued to affect me most of my life. It had been with me so long, constantly battering away at me, that I just assumed it must all be true. I had never sat down to analyse it or challenge it. It was something that I had simply got used to as a part of me.

Now, I took time to pick apart each phrase to see if it was fact or just an opinion. I also looked at whether it was helpful to me or my mental health – and then I argued with it.


Example 1: “You don’t deserve to be here”.

Is this a fact?

No, it’s not a fact, it’s an opinion, because there is actually no proof to back this up. I also think if you asked people who know me, they would disagree.

Is it helpful?

No, it’s definitely not helpful, in fact it is actually a really horrible thing to say to someone.

In fact, why don’t I deserve to be here, in this social situation? I feel like everyone else deserves to be here. I’m a good person with things to offer, so why the hell can’t I be here with everyone else?!

Example 2: “You’re weird, and no one likes you”.

Is this a fact?

Actually, no, it isn’t a fact at all because people on the whole don’t dislike me. I tend to get on well with most people. I’m friendly and kind and compassionate and I have friends who definitely do like me.

I have a unique look with tattoos, piercings, and pink hair, but that doesn’t make me weird. I’m sensitive, and sometimes I hear voices and sense things others can’t, but that doesn’t make me weird either.

Is it helpful?

Definitely not – it is rubbish spouted by people decades ago and I refuse to believe it anymore.


I found that getting annoyed with the words and phrases and telling them how I refused to believe them actually helped me fully reject them, but you could do it in any way you like really: whatever works best for you.

You could even write them out on paper and rip each one up after you challenge it or burn them – safely! This way you are truly saying goodbye and good riddance!


Keep at it.

Now when I’m feeling anxious and uncomfortable and I start noticing the ‘attack self’ scripts starting up again, I silently tell them to go away and that I just don’t believe them anymore (though usually phrased as ‘piss off, you know that’s bullsh*t’).

It does take practice, and you have to expose yourself to some uncomfortable situations a bit in order to do the practice (go gently at first) but I have found it does work.

Even when I wasn’t practicing it, I would reflect on it, and just try to notice it popping up here and there. I began to notice it when I was just walking around in public and when I went into shops.

I had always felt really self-conscious, but now I could see it was shame making me feel that way because the script was telling me I looked weird, and that people were all judging me and hating me.

I understand now that the emotional abuse I suffered when I was young was the cause of me always feeling so uncomfortable around other people.


Combat it with something you know is true about yourself.

Sometimes I repeat things to myself inside my head to double-down on keeping the shame away. I do it when I’m sitting in meetings feeling anxious or even when I’m walking along the street feeling self-conscious.

I repeat to myself:

“I am a good, kind person with a lot to offer other people”.

I want nothing more than to be kind to people and help them – that is who I am deep down. This is a fact, not an opinion. This is my fact about myself.

Reminding myself of these intrinsic good qualities always makes me feel instantly stronger.

If the self-talk is saying I’m ugly, or weird, or I don’t deserve to be somewhere, I’m basically arguing back and saying that even if those things were true (which they are not), I am a good, kind person with lots to offer other people, so who cares what you think!

You will have to find what phrase works best for you. It could be ‘I am kind and loving to animals’, ‘I am a good parent’, ‘I always try my very best to do the right thing’ etc. Search deep inside for one thing that you know is good and true about yourself – you don’t have to share it with anyone, so it doesn’t matter what other people would think or say about it. It is a fact about you that you know to be true, so search deep inside yourself – you will know it when you find it.


I still find social situations uncomfortable and anxiety-producing, but now I mostly just have the anxiety itself to deal with (the body reactions of racing heart, dry mouth, feeling shaky). It isn’t pleasant, but it is manageable now, compared to when there was deep shame attached to it, where I sat there in severe emotional distress, wanting to cry, and run away.

I still feel shame, too, in areas of my life, but I have managed to tackle the shame that was disabling me the most – the shame I felt in social situations. As I notice shame pop up in other situations, I use the skills I have learned. I spot it, acknowledge it and then later write it down and analyse it.

None of this has been easy, but it has definitely made a big difference in my life.

The reason I decided to write this is because I think it is so worth sharing with others.

We need to talk about shame more, even if that can feel hard to do.


Why is it so hard to talk and think about shame?

Talking and thinking about shame can make us feel extremely vulnerable. It can make us feel more ashamed.

It is an emotion tied up with very personal thoughts and beliefs about being unacceptable and unworthy and so we automatically feel we need to keep it to ourselves and not share it with others, in order to protect ourselves. That is a natural way to feel.

After my first psychology session about shame, I felt withdrawn for quite a few days as I needed to process the fact that I felt it at all. I realised it had been there my whole life, ruling me in so many situations, massively affecting my mental health, and yet I had not even known it was there. It was difficult to accept at first.

I recently read ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ by Brené Brown (2010), and in it she says that shame has the most power when it is in the dark. To make it less powerful, the best thing you can do is drag it out into the light.

You can do that by doing what I have described in this article, but Brené says it is also useful to talk about it with someone who you can trust to listen and not judge.

After a week of reflecting on the whole situation, I was talking on the phone to a friend and began to tell her about what I’d been doing in my psychology sessions recently. It felt too difficult to just dive into the subject, but leading up to it generally seemed to be a good way in. I went on to say something like this:

“Last week I learned about shame – it’s actually not what I thought it was at all. You know those times when you feel bad really about yourself, that you’re not good enough? That’s actually shame talking. I’ve started to realise all those times when I’ve felt bad about myself in front of others, I was feeling shame. I realise that it was shame making me attack myself with all the negative self-talk, making me do so many self-destructive things, and also why I’ve found it so hard to be around people so much. Do you think you’ve felt it sometimes too?”

I know not everyone has someone they can trust to talk to about their deep feelings. If you have a psychologist or therapist, they might be happy to look at it with you.

If not, just having conversations about shame in general, even without talking about your own personal experiences, helps to raise awareness of this emotion. I think this is a topic that should be more acceptable for people to think and talk about and that it could lead to many of us understanding what really lies behind our strong emotions. Perhaps it could help more people heal more quickly.

Spotting it, naming it, and talking about it gets it out of the shadows where it prefers to be and helps reduce the power it can have over us and how much it can rule our lives.

Even once we release internalised shame that has been there a long time, shame can still come along here and there through future experiences. Learning to notice when we are feeling new shame and to recognise it for what it is, as it happens, can make it much less likely to become internalised again and to have such a hold on our lives as in the past.


And finally.

Please remember – shame is not your fault.

You have no need to feel ashamed if you recognise shame in your emotions or in your life. It could mean that you have not been treated very well at times in your life.

Shame can become overwhelming and can really affect people’s lives, but it is a normal human emotion that everybody feels to some extent.

Nothing is wrong with you for feeling shame.

In fact, noticing it and being aware of it makes you one step ahead of the many, many people who still have no idea that they are feeling shame and continue to be ruled by it.


I recommend reading anything by Brene Brown. Her work on vulnerability, courage, and shame, researched and written as both a professional and as someone who has intensely felt both, is incredibly heart-warming and honest and I have gained so much from her.

This is her website: https://brenebrown.com/


References

Brown, B. (2010). The Gifts of Imperfection: let go of who you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are. Center City, MN: Hazelden.

Nathanson, D. (1992). Shame and pride: Affect, sex, and the birth of the self. New York, NY: Norton.

Nathanson, D. (1997). Affect theory and the compass of shame. In M. Lansky and A. Morrison (Eds.), The widening scope of shame. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press.

Protecting yourself from harm in emergency housing: an essential guide

Emergency housing is accommodation that is provided to people who are homeless and seen as in being priority need (in the UK). The idea is to house you for a temporary period whilst you wait for more permanent housing to become available.

You can read more about how emergency housing is allocated here.


I spent nearly two years in emergency housing.

The first couple of months was in what was called a bed and breakfast (B’n’B), though it was really a bedsit in a converted, disused pub (definitely no breakfast!). The rest of the time, I was in a studio flat in a large, damp, old Victorian house converted into flats. Both were in different towns at least 40 minutes from anywhere I was familiar with, and I didn’t know anyone at all in those towns.

If you are being housed in emergency accommodation, you are vulnerable, even if you do not think of yourself that way. You can easily become the target of coercion, abuse, or even violence.

You are meant to be safe from harm in this type of accommodation, but this is unfortunately not always the reality, due to a number of unstable and/or distressed people being housed in one place.

I am writing this in the hope it might help someone falling into some of the many traps that can present themselves.

It is up to you if you choose to follow my advice, of course, but this is what I learned (often the hard way) through my own experiences.

I don’t want to make anyone feel overly afraid or paranoid: I simply want to encourage healthy vigilance and awareness.


Other Residents

– Be discerning about who you make friends with

Everyone has their own reasons for being housed in emergency accommodation.

There were a mix of people in my building: single mothers with young children, people with mental health difficulties, and people with drug and alcohol issues, or a combination of those.

Most people seen as being in priority need are vulnerable and that can create a hotbed of issues and emotions in one building, particularly when drugs and/or alcohol are a factor.

I found the best way to act around my fellow residents was to be friendly when I bumped into them in the hallway or in the town, but to not stop and chat. I was never rude: I was always pleasant, but I made it obvious I wanted to keep myself to myself. As long as you’re not rude, people tend to accept that’s just how you are.

After some time, I got to learn who it was okay to stop and talk to a little more. Eventually I made friends with one of the single mums, and we would go for walks into town together.

You may feel you want to get friendly with the other people who live there, particularly if you don’t know anyone else in the area. I would recommend that you get to know people what the people are like slowly over a period of months before you do this, and sometimes it might be best avoided altogether.

You don’t want to end up in a situation where you feel coerced to do things for people, where you are harassed and not left alone, where you feel unsafe, or where you will come to the negative attention of the housing association. When this is going on where you live, you can’t get away from it without forfeiting your right to accommodation.

Being discerning can be tough when you are vulnerable, but it is important to safeguard yourself from getting drawn into other people’s issues or into volatile situations, particularly if there are drugs or alcohol involved.

– Be selective about what you tell others

It is best to avoid giving out any personal information, or details about your personal circumstances. Definitely do not give away any information about possessions you have that might be valuable, or anything to do with money, which benefits you get, how much you have, when you are going to get some etc. Just play dumb and say you can’t remember.

You may also want to be careful about sharing where you live with people who don’t live there either. Often people in the town will know the address as where vulnerable people live and may use it to their advantage. I had a stalker from the town at one point, who wouldn’t go away and once managed to get into the building due to my neighbour letting him in. Luckily, I was out that evening. I had to report him to the police for harassment.

– Keep your door locked

Even if you are just going out to the bin and will be minutes: lock it behind you. Don’t leave anything in the communal areas as it is at risk of being stolen.

– Don’t lend or give out possessions

If you lend things, be prepared for them not to be returned. Also be wary of giving out things like cigarettes, unless you are sure you can trust the person not to hound you from then on. My neighbour would drunkenly bang on certain people’s doors in the middle of the night demanding tobacco.

Don’t allow yourself to be indebted to anyone.

– Don’t invite other residents into your flat

There are some people who will be very interested to see what you have in there. Keep valuables away from windows, and keep the curtains drawn in rooms where you can easily see in.

– Always lock your door at night

I used to keep my door locked even during the day when I was in there. Always make sure your keys are nearby, so you can escape in case of a fire.


Residents’ Visitors

– Avoid answering the main door unless you are expecting someone

Our front doorbell would ring all the time, and because I was in the front ground floor flat, I ended up getting lumbered with opening it all the time.

I opened the door on two separate occasions to some men wanting to find people who lived here due to drug debts or thefts in the town. I just played dumb and said I didn’t know because I didn’t want to be involved. I was lucky that no one forced their way past me, as they easily could have if they wanted to.

– Don’t leave your own door propped open when you are inside your flat

Try not to let visitors see inside your flat, even just a quick glance. Visitors are complete unknowns because the housing association will not even know who they are, and they will know that you are an easy target.

– If there is an incident, keep your involvement to the minimum (where you can)

Incidents can happen a lot in this kind of accommodation: drunken fights, anti-social behaviour, criminal damage, domestic abuse, thefts, overdoses etc.

You may have to make judgement calls about whether to intervene if an incident occurs in the communal areas. I’d say that most of the time it is best not to get involved in anything and to stay in your room with the door locked. You may decide to call the police, and by all means do. It might be best to do this discretely, if possible.

One evening, a female neighbour was being attacked in the hallway by one of her male visitors. She was banging on my door screaming to be let into my room so she could escape him. It was a really scary situation.

I had already called the police, but then had to decide whether to let her into my flat to safety and risk him coming into my room too, or to keep my door locked and let him keep attacking her. I eventually let her in. Luckily, he didn’t follow her in, and I locked the door behind her. The police arrived minutes later and arrested him. It is the only time I let someone into my room.

I can’t tell you what to do if something like this happens, as every situation is different, and it is up to you to make judgements in the moment. I exposed myself to violence when I opened the door for her, and although I feel now that I made the right decision in that particular moment, it could easily have played out very differently and I could have been hurt too.


‘Official’ Visitors

Be aware of people who come into your flat to perform maintenance or work duties, even if they are from an official company or service. Most will be friendly and professional and there will be no issue, but they will know that you are vulnerable because of where you live, and some may see if they can use that to their advantage.

If any maintenance person uses your contact details to send you private messages, they have crossed a line, and you should report them to the company they work for, if you feel safe enough to do that. At the very least, they are breaking data confidentiality if they are using your name or number to add you on Facebook/Snapchat/any other social media, or to text or call you.

Block them. Don’t let them flatter you into engaging with them. Anyone who solicits you, knowing that you are living somewhere for vulnerable people, is not the sort of person you want to respond to or meet up with.

This includes the POLICE. I am sad to have to say this, but my friend in the accommodation was contacted by a (married) police officer who made a series of advances towards her, after he had attended an incident there. She complained and he was taken to a tribunal, which she had to give evidence at and found a very distressing experience. He ended up resigning.

That this happens at all is so wrong and incredibly inappropriate, but it does happen. Please be aware of everyone who is in your space, no matter who they are.

Keep any texts or messages and make written notes of anything not stored by your phone, whether you are planning to complain or not – you may change your mind down the line and decide you want to. If you have a support worker or professional who works with you, it may be a good idea to mention to them anything untoward that happens, if you feel able to trust them.


Housing Staff

It is a sad state of affairs that I need to include warnings about the housing staff themselves, but unfortunately it is a reality.

I was bullied by individual members of housing staff in both of the places I lived at. When I stood up for myself, they used their position of power over me to be further abusive and to threaten me with the loss of my accommodation.

Threats to have you ‘thrown out’ if you do not comply are NOT ACCEPTABLE. I’m not talking about official warnings from the housing organisation if you are breaking rules. I’m talking about individual staff members making off the record threats in order to wield their own personal power over you when you try to stand up for yourself.

This is abuse and it sadly happens more than you think.

I have been spoken to like shit over the phone by housing officers, too, as was my one friend in there. The general impression we got was that they saw people who lived in this type of housing as low life scum who should be treated accordingly.

This is not acceptable!

Please do not think that because you are in emergency housing that you do not deserve to be treated with humanity and dignity.

You are not a second-class citizen. You have the same rights to fair treatment as everybody else.

– Keep notes

You can do this on paper or in a notepad app on your phone. Keep records of any interactions where you are not treated unfairly or badly. Include dates, times, and details of what was said both by you and them. If it keeps happening, having a timeline and ongoing record of the incidences will really help if you decide to report it.

I understand if you don’t want to report anything while you live there, but if you collect notes, you can complain about them once you leave. Even if it is too late by then for the complaint to benefit you, if every person these people bullied made an official complaint about them, a pattern would emerge that their organisation/the council wouldn’t be able to ignore.

If you have a social worker, care co-ordinator, community nurse, or any other supportive person who works with you who is not part of the council or housing association, it can be a good idea to share with them about any bullying or abuse that is happening, particularly if you trust them.

– Try to stay as calm and assertive as you can

Try not to get abusive back, no matter how upset or angry you are. Your true power isn’t in giving them crap back, but in making a record of how you are being treated, and then getting support to challenge them.

Don’t stoop to their level – you are better than that, and you are more likely to get somewhere by taking the higher ground, getting support, and going through official channels.

I have included contact details of some really helpful charities at the bottom of this article.


Housing Services

The services that run the emergency housing, both the council and the housing association, have a lot of power over you, and they are not always fair. This relative position of powerlessness that you are in is another way that you are vulnerable.

There are a couple of really important tips I want to share to help you retain your power as much as possible.

– Make a photographic record immediately after getting the keys

Despite me leaving the flat cleaner than when I went in, and the woman I handed the key back to saying verbally that it was all fine, I was sent an invoice a year (!) down the line saying I had not cleaned properly and demanding hundreds of pounds in compensation.

Luckily, I had proof, and they had no choice but to waive the invoice in the end. I still have no idea why this happened suddenly a year after I had left – no explanation was ever given to me by them, despite me requesting one.

When you move into your room or flat, the first thing you should do is take photos or video of the whole place – floors, ceilings, walls, all appliances, all the bathroom and kitchen amenities like the toilet, bath, sinks, cupboards. The more you photograph the better. Make sure you include any already-damaged areas or items (a common one is kick/punch holes in internal doors).

You want there to be a record of how the flat looked when you moved in, so they cannot charge you later for damage that was there before you arrived.

Save these photos/video – your phone should automatically record the date of your moving-in day on them. Do it as soon as you get the keys and ideally before you’ve moved any of your things in.

Do exactly the same when you move out, on the actual day you move out, after you have cleaned and emptied the place of your stuff, and ideally just before you hand the keys back. Your phone should record your moving-out date on the photos.

When you move out, the important thing is to show how clean you have left it. Clean it well, and then get close up evidence of how clean it is!

Keep all of these photos and videos for up to a couple of years after you move out. As I say above, I was challenged on how I left things a YEAR after I had moved out, so it is best to hold onto those pictures as long as you can. If you need them off your phone, email them to yourself, or download them onto a memory stick or a laptop etc, if you have access to one, or perhaps to a friend’s one.

You might even ask the person who is collecting the keys from you to put in writing that the flat was fine when you left it, rather than just giving a verbal okay. They might refuse if it isn’t their policy, but it could be worth asking.

– Stick to the rules!

Avoid bringing drama or issues to the accommodation, because those in charge of it have a lot of power over you and can make your life very difficult. They can keep you there longer by temporarily removing your option to move into more permanent housing, and they can evict you. If you are evicted, it can make it harder for you to be housed again in future and you could end upon the streets.

You definitely don’t need any extra stress to worry about! Protect yourself from this by playing by the rules of the accommodation as much as possible.

Remember, your situation is temporary (even if it feels like forever) and eventually you will be housed in a place of your own, where you will feel much safer and more stable, and you won’t need to follow as many rules.


Where to go for help and support

If you need help with any of what I have discussed here, I recommend you:

  • Speak to your support worker, social worker, or any impartial professional who knows you and who you feel you can trust.
  • Speak to the housing association or the council, depending on what the situation is. Be careful as they may close ranks – it might be best to get the support of one of the below organisations first.

Here are some very good, impartial organisations you can go to for advice and support:

You used to be able to walk into a branch near you, but due to current coronavirus restrictions, this has been moved to telephone support.

Their website has lots of information to read, plus numbers to call and details of web chat etc.

Their contact information page is here.

They have a free national helpline you can call to speak to an adviser, or you can find information on their website that may be of help.

Both are a good place to start and they will be able to signpost you onwards if you need more specific support. They will have the most up-to-date information available.


And finally…

Of course, people will have different experiences in emergency accommodation, and I do hope yours is better than mine.

I still think it is important to be aware of possible issues that can arise.

Stay aware, maintain boundaries, and keep yourself to yourself as much as you can: those are probably the best bits of advice I can give.

Record everything and keep those records for a couple of years.

Get help from people or organisations that are impartial and that can support you. You don’t have to go through anything alone.

You will get through this and it doesn’t last forever, even if it feels like it at the time.