I am 33 now. Married with two children. I have been in employment for over 10 years now and own my home. I wasn’t always so lucky. I have had over 20 addresses in my time, leaving home at the age of 15 I have struggled with addiction and mental illness. I was fortunate enough to meet people in my life who helped me and enabled me to achieve the better things in my life. Without these people I am certain I would not be here today to tell my story. Please read a few statements of people who knew me around the age of 17- 19 when I was homeless and when I feel I was at my worst.
“As Rachel's best friend at school it was very hard for me to watch her going downhill so quickly. She ended up moving out of her home and sinking downhill into alcoholism. She went from drinking just at the weekends to getting up in the morning and starting the day with a drink. She started turning up at work drunk and would wake me up banging on my door in the early hours of the morning begging me for money. She drank so much that she started getting problems with her liver and would get horrendous withdrawals trying to stop drinking. We both applied to go to university together which I was very excited about but she was in such a mess she didn't' seem to even know what day it was. I made the tough decision to go to a different university alone and she later told me she couldn't even remember anything about university at that time in her life. I watched Rachel sink into such devastating depressions that I feared for her life. It was horrible just watching her sink lower and lower and not be able to do anything about it. Her friends changed, she just wanted to hang around with people who were also getting wasted all the time. I just felt so helpless….
I think the turning point for her was when she got pregnant. It was such a difficult time for her but she eventually turned her life around for the sake of her son.
Now I'm so happy that she's back to being the Rachel that I knew and loved from when I first met her. She always cared so much about people, always generous putting other people first. I'm so proud of her setting up this hostel and I couldn't think of anyone who is more perfect for this job than Rachel. She's got such passion and knowledge about what it's like to lose everything and be able to get yourself out of that situation and make something of yourself. I'm so glad she's able to use her own experiences for good. She's a totally different person now, confident, helpful, sensible, caring and the best friend you could ever hope for!" Katherine – School Friend.
“Rachel at the time was aimless and searching for something, often in the wrong places, people and forms. She had a desire to help people but ultimately ended up being the person needing the most help of all. Since the birth of her children; the building of a wide supportive network; a loving marriage; and volunteering and being employed in various health and social action projects; Rachel has achieved what in the past could not have been thought possible…..” Carl – friend and co-worker
13/06/99 – rented box room in house in Manchester by Rachel Holliday
“...back in this room again...not like a home in anyway....more another pit stop. Outside is miserable and dull. The foul stench of the streets blow in through the broken window. The stale smell of this small room can be detected from the outside.....once a dream to be here has turned into a nightmare I hope to escape......”
15/06/1999 – Smithfield Unit Manchester (by Rachel Holliday)
“...although surrounded by others I feel so alone. So anxious and scared of what will happen. I don’t feel like I belong here......I see the faces of fellow “clients” tormented and lost in their own thoughts. Do these people really feel like I do?..........
18/06/1999 “....I feel tearful and antisocial. Worse than I did yesterday. I’m so scared now I don’t feel like I want to be anywhere, no where’s safe”
22/11/1999 Room in a shared flat, South Manchester.
“I feel so empty and alone, I feel no amount of people in this flat would make it feel full. This room echo’s the silence or the blare of my radio. I can’t live alone, isolated.......”