My name is Betty (pictured right). I am a 62-year-old single woman, and I have been living out of my van for the last four and a half years.

Prior to that I had been staying in share accommodation, but that didn’t work out due to concerns I had for my safety, and I’ve been homeless ever since.

Over 18 months ago, some people who were also living in their cars told me about a service at Pelican Park where I could wash my clothes and have a shower — it was Footprints SUSO homeless outreach service. I thought this service could be good to help me look after my general hygiene and wellbeing, and that it might also help me save some money.

To start with, I would pop down, do my washing and leave — I didn’t feel comfortable talking with any of the staff or other people. But over time, I’ve felt more at ease with the staff and the service, and it is now an important part of my weekly routine.

I now use the service twice a week to do my washing, shower and spend some time talking with Lesley (left) about my mental health challenges. Lesley has been a wonderful support, she knows what she is talking about, she is very perceptive and helps me to better manage my mental health.

I keep coming back because of how helpful the staff and volunteers are. They create a space that is welcoming, relaxed and non-judgemental — all the things that are meaningful to you when you are living on the street.

This service is so important to me and the homeless community. It allows us to do some of the basic things that most people who have a home take for granted — all while helping us to get back into permanent housing.

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