A deceased mother and strained relationships with family members - but now, at last, some peace for sofa-surfing teenager, thanks to charity's intervention

  • Around 83,000 young people find themselves homeless in the UK every year
  • Ashleigh's mother died of cancer when she was just six-years-old
  • After staying with family members, the teenager found herself homeless 

Written by Callum Patterson for DonateToday

PUBLISHED: 15:34, 5th Sep 2017 | UPDATED: 15:44, 27th Oct 2017

Falling Apart

When Ashleigh was just a child of six, her mother died of cancer. 

‘My whole family fell apart,’ she recalls, speaking to charity Depaul’s website. ‘I lived with my auntie from the age of six, but left when I was 15, as she wasn’t able to cope with my behaviour – when I hit my teens, I started to act up quite a lot as I had so much anger and emotion built up inside of me about losing my mam.’

Ashleigh now lives alone in a flat in North Tyneside, England

As she was no longer able to live with her aunt, the teenage Ashleigh moved in her grandmother ‘who used alcohol as a coping strategy for my mam’s death,’ says Ashleigh. 

‘I didn’t manage to stay with her for long as we constantly argued and she was in no frame of mind to look after me. I turned to my friends and started sofa-surfing.’

"I started to act up quite a lot as I had so much anger and emotion built up inside of me about losing mam."

- Ashleigh

Part of a New Family

It was during this time in her life that Ashleigh found Depaul Nightstop, a service that helps young people find emergency accommodation and longer-term supported lodgings, and turned to the charity service for help. 

Ashleigh, now 19, recalls meeting ‘some incredible hosts and staff members,’ through using Nightstop.

‘I used Nighstop for six weeks, and I met some amazing hosts who really helped me come out of comfort zone,’ she says. 

‘They made me feel so welcome in their homes. I really started to realise how it felt to be a part of a family.'

Ashleigh, now 19, recalls meeting ‘some incredible hosts and staff members,’ through using Nightstop.

‘I used Nighstop for six weeks, and I met some amazing hosts who really helped me come out of comfort zone,’ she says. 

‘They made me feel so welcome in their homes. I really started to realise how it felt to be a part of a family.'

Ashleigh was unable to stay with either her aunt or her grandmother

"I can honestly say I would not be the lady I am today, if it wasn’t for Depaul."

- Ashleigh

Very Supportive

Ashleigh continues: ‘On the days where I was really down and felt like I couldn’t cope, they really helped me and kept me going. They are all still very supportive of me.’

Now living alone in a North Tyneside flat as part of the charity’s Outreach Service, Ashleigh is still able to access the support of the charity if she ever feels like she needs it.

However, for the most part, she now appears to be flourishing. ‘The Depaul staff were great, and I would love to say a massive thank you to all,' offers Ashleigh. 

‘I can honestly say I would not be the lady I am today, if it wasn’t for Depaul.'

Please note that names may have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved. Images are used for illustrative purposes only and, unless specified, persons included in images are posed models, not the persons mentioned in the article.