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Arriving in the UK

In 2015 Lee flew from Australia to visit her partner in Jersey. She had booked a return flight but after she arrived decided to extend her trip and cancelled the return flight.

“A few days before Christmas day my partner had gone out and returned home with her ex quite a few hours later. She packed a few things, told me that my flights would be booked back to Australia in the next few days and walked out on me. I never saw her again. There was no absolutely no warning that was going to happen so it was extremely traumatising for me.”

Lee’s partner did not organise her return flight and she was left stranded with no way to get home. On a tourist visa she was not allowed to work and had no recourse to public funds. Lee stayed with friends in Jersey for a short time who then helped her to get to London so she could go to the Australian Embassy and tell them about her situation.

Winter on the streets

In London, the Embassy told Lee they couldn’t help with the flight but they did give her details of a nearby day centre – the Connection at St Martin’s. Now homeless in London, with nowhere else to go, Lee made her way to the centre. Lee had no option but to sleep on the Strand that evening so a referral was made to StreetLink. Lee was found by an outreach team and taken to NSNO who, following a full assessment assisted Lee to make arrangements to return to Australia and identify somewhere safe for her to stay on her return.

“It was extremely cold being winter and it rained most of the night. I could not sleep at all. It is quite scary especially being in a foreign country. I was also still in a lot of shock, tired, and just trying to work out what I was going to do. My mind and heart were a complete mess.

I spent one night only on the streets and in the early hours of the morning two outreach workers found me. I was referred to NSNO and made my way there.

Initially, when I got to NSNO I was not in a good way. In my mind I did not believe NSNO would help me. It took me a while to believe and trust that I was actually being helped and that the hub staff really did care about me.

I cannot praise the staff at NSNO enough. They deal with so many people every day with a broad spectrum of issues; the way they handle it just really impressed me and gave me a tiny bit of my faith back in humanity.”

Rebuilding my life

“NSNO assisted me with arranging my travel back to Australia. One of the workers from NSNO came with me to the airport. I was so grateful to have him with me.

When I got back home to Australia, I had to find a new place to live straight away which was not easy. Now I live in an amazing house right near the beach in a beautiful area. I am slowly dealing with the trauma I went through and am totally rebuilding my whole life.

By the end of 2017 I plan to own my first house outright. I will live in it and refurbish it myself. I am a writer so I plan to start writing the books that I have always wanted to write.

I am also working on some really massive projects for the homeless here in my own town and nationwide, and I spiritually mentor people who are having struggles in their life. This brings me great joy and satisfaction. As a mentor I am also learning and healing from the people I help so it is a beautiful exchange.

I still have massive challenges everyday with my recovery but I think I am doing OK.”