School pupils in the Mansfield area have been learning about the realities of homelessness from those who have experienced it.
Staff and volunteers from Broxtowe Youth Homelessness, a charity dedicated to helping young people at risk of homelessness across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire have been commissioned to visit secondary schools across the Mansfield district to deliver sessions on the subject during the current academic year.
Among the schools to receive a visit was Samworth Church Academy in Mansfield.
Christian Deslandes, 22, a youth mentor from Arnold, helped to deliver the session.
He said: “I first left home at 14 because I wasn’t getting on with my mum and there were a lot of issues going on which I decided to take myself away from.
“I wanted to be away from that environment, so I ended up in foster care for a couple of years.
“Since then I’ve had experience of living in hostels and supported accommodation, as well as sleeping on people’s sofas.
“I can talk to the students about what I’ve been through and hopefully dispel some of the myths and stereotypes.
“You could become homeless at any point in your life, you just don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.”
The turning point for Christian was ending up seriously ill in hospital.
He said: “My health was not the best. I didn’t realise it at the time but I am Type 1 diabetic so I wasn’t looking after myself as well as I should and ended up in a coma in hospital.
“I just thought ‘I can’t go on like this’.”
He said: “I really enjoy doing the sessions and knowing that I am helping people.
Some of them just listen and don’t say a lot, but it’s good for those who may be going through issues to speak to someone like me and know that I understand, and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Caroline Ashley, wellbeing lead at the Samworth Church Academy, added: “The sessions were an invaluable chance for our students to understand and hear the experiences of those who have been homeless.
Home Street Home sessions are available to year 10 and 11 pupils in all schools across the Mansfield district, call 0115 9396760 for details.