Beam have been shortlisted for this year’s London Homelessness Awards. Read Sarahs/Annas/Ryans story.
Meet Sarah: the single mum who overcame addiction at 40
For 40 years, Sarah’s life was defined by addiction, abuse, and trauma. Here she shares her story of turning her life around with support from Beam
My life before: Addiction and abuse
My life was chaotic. It was painful. There was a lot of domestic violence. And it was all because of the lifestyle that I was living, the people that I was hanging around with, and the value that I had on my self-worth. I wasn’t able to make sensible choices because I was constantly intoxicated or wanted to go where there was access or freedom to be able to do as much as I wanted. I’ve put myself in some very dangerous situations that I’m so thankful to have survived.
Finding support from Beam
I first heard about Beam in rehab. At first, I didn’t think much more of it while I continued the rest of my recovery. Once I moved into the move-on house, as an extension from rehab, did a solid year of recovery meetings and service, I started thinking about my future. What am I going to do? How am I going to work? How am I going to live? So I made the call and got assigned to a caseworker, who was lovely. It was a real boost for me to have Beam behind me and supporting me.
£4,673 was raised to fund my health and social care qualification, as well as other things like a laptop, travel costs, and work clothes.
Finding confidence with my Beam campaign
When my campaign launched, I was sceptical at first – who’s going to donate to little old me? But once the funding and the messages started to come in, it was so overwhelming. I was blown away.
I still remember one message, and it said: “So proud of you. You are amazing. You are an inspiration. Stay strong.”
And my confidence and self-esteem shot through the roof. I was full of feelings like I can do anything! And anytime I struggled through my course, I’d look at that message and remember that feeling I had, where I could do anything.
Becoming a carer
I’ve always been a carer. I just didn’t care for myself. But it’s naturally in me. Right now I’m a carer for an elderly lady who has dementia. She’s a joy and it’s a privilege to work with her. If I hadn’t got my qualifications, which Beam funded for me, I would never have got this opportunity. My long-term goal is to open my own care home for the elderly.
Becoming the mum I wanted to be
Having a safe place to call home has allowed me to build on my relationship with my daughter. Since getting clean, my daughter respects me. I can the level of respect that I’m stable and earning money now and that I’m up and willing to go to work. I hope I’m an inspiration to her. She always tells me she is proud of me. For me it’s the little moments – when my daughter sends me a message and says ‘I love you mum’. And those are the little moments for me.
My life now: Warm, safe, and secure
I was always sofa surfing or living in unsafe places. When I was little, I would find myself looking in other people’s windows because all I ever wanted was somewhere warm, cosy, and safe. With Beam’s support, they’ve made that happen.
Beam has given me my security. This is my dream. This is all I ever wanted. I feel safe, and it’s clean, and it’s all mine.
A message of thanks
To all my supporters, I just want to say thank you so much. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your guidance. Thank you for your generosity. You have been my biggest cheerleaders, and I just want you to know that your support has helped build my self-esteem and my confidence.
Meet Anna: the Ukrainian refugee who found new beginnings in the UK
On 24th February 2022, Anna woke up to the sounds of bombs in her native city, Kharkiv, in north-east Ukraine. In that moment, her and her son’s lives changed forever.
Like many Ukrainians who were housed with British families, once her six-month term came to an end, Anna and her son feared they would become homeless in a foreign country.
Life in Ukraine
Life in Ukraine was stable. We lived peacefully in our flat, not expecting anything to change. I worked as an artist, and on the 23rd of February, I was on a call discussing new upcoming projects for the spring – I was so happy.
But at night, all our dreams and plans were destroyed by the Russian missiles. On 24th of February, we were awakened by – what I thought were fireworks – but then they were not stopping. It was the sound of bombs. The tanks were coming to our streets and I thought we will be killed. It was very terrifying. The war was my biggest fear from my childhood.
Arriving on the Homes for Ukraine scheme
When my son and I arrived in the UK, we were hosted by a British family and we are very happy and thankful to them for giving us this opportunity. They helped us a lot, and helped to enrol my son to school. It was a nice family, but for sure it’s not easy, for us and for them, living with someone else. The six month term eventually came to an end and I was so stressed, fearing that we would become homeless.
Finding support from Beam
A woman from Brent Council was aware of my situation, and she gave my details to Beam. Then I got a call from Beam saying that they could help me – I couldn’t believe it!
Beam helped me with covering the first month’s rent and the deposit. I also got a voucher for some furniture. It was huge help considering the rising prices of flats in London. There is a big difference in renting in Ukraine and UK – it was really stressful – so I was very grateful to get support from my caseworker at Beam.
The kindness of strangers
When my campaign launched, and I saw that people started to donate and leave so many kind messages – it really surprised me. It was touching to see how many kind people who are ready to show their support and help.
Thanks to Beam and my supporters, you know that the help will always come even when you don’t expect it at all.
£4,785 was raised to support me into stable housing with a deposit, first month’s rent, and housing essentials.
Ukraine war: 1 year on
I cannot believe it has already been a year since the war started – and no one knows how many more years it will last.
There are so many things I’m grateful for… My life and my son’s. All the people I have met on the way. The support I have received, from the kind strangers to the family who hosted us and helped my son get into school.
I’m also grateful to this country for all the help and support they have given to Ukrainian people and soldiers.
Despite the circumstances, I’m happy that we’re alive and now settled.
A message of thanks
I want to say thank you to all of my supporters for your help, your donations, your kind messages that you leave under my campaign. If you were here, I would hug each of you. I don’t know what your life circumstances are but this is so heart-warming that you can find the resources to help people who are in difficult situations. Thank you so much.
Meet Ryan: the homeless veteran who turned his life around
Meet Ryan, an army veteran. If you passed Buckingham Palace to watch the Trooping the Colour in the early 90s – you may have seen him! Ryan followed his Dad into the army and became part of the Blues and Royals, the mounted regiment of the Household Cavalry.
Unfortunately, Ryan’s life took a turn for the worse at the beginning of 2018, which resulted in him becoming homeless. It was at this point that he was introduced to Beam and helped back into work. We recently caught with Ryan to find out more about his story, how Beam supported him and see how he’s doing 5 years later…
What was your life like before Beam?
After I left the army, I moved to the USA and got a job in trucking. I built my whole life in America – gained a green card, had kids, bought a house, and ran a successful business…
But in the blink of an eye, disaster struck. My immigration papers caused a series of events that resulted in me losing everything. After 18 years in the U.S, I returned to the UK with nothing but the clothes on my back. I was street homeless.
How were you connected with Beam?
I was looking for funding to try and get me back to HGV driving or truck driving – that’s what I did in America. Veterans Aid put me in touch with Beam – and Beam gave me that focus, understanding and hope that there is something waiting for me. They told me it was going to be okay and helped me get back on my feet.
Tell us about your caseworker, how did they support you?
I will never forget my caseworker, Anna! She gave me that reassurance to help get my life back, which was great.
I remember walking into the office for the very first time with her… I was so nervous, wondering if she could really help me or not, but she was very reassuring and comforting. She supported me right from the beginning, calmed my nerves and helped me get my HGV licence.
Can you remember your Beam campaign going live?
When I sat down with Anna and she told me how it works, I was very sceptical because I didn’t think there were people out there that would want to support me like that. But there is, and it’s because Beam has brought those people together.
Thanks to Beam’s community, 508 kind strangers raised over £4,300 to fund my training and licence, helping me to kickstart my future in the UK.
What’s your life like now?
Life couldn’t be better. I’m happy where I’m at right now – and I’m happy where I live, with my two little dogs.
I’m now a Lorry Driver at New Era Fuels – and I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I find my job really rewarding because I help supply fuel for the NHS, even throughout the whole pandemic.
Beam will always be a part of me and my story – no matter what. I feel a part of a family, and there’s a big sense of community when you know there are so many people out there that care and are willing to support you.
Do you have a message for your supporters?
You’re not just changing someone’s life: you’re saving it. So to all my supporters, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart, for supporting me.