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Total raised so far

385%

£385.00 of £100 target +£63.75 Gift Aid See breakdown

Recent donations

4 years ago

❤️

£10.00

4 years ago

Mike Smith

£20.00 + £5.00 Gift Aid

Your story's brought a tear to my eye Naomi.

4 years ago

Claire Fisher

£10.00 + £2.50 Gift Aid

4 years ago

Claire Dickinson-Knight

£10.00 + £2.50 Gift Aid

Thinking of you x

4 years ago

Rachel Pinfold

£10.00 + £2.50 Gift Aid

4 years ago

Rob Hooper

£25.00 + £6.25 Gift Aid

It's always better to run towards a goal...

4 years ago

Bruce & Kathy Willmer

£50.00

Best of luck. Great cause.

4 years ago

Chrissy

£5.00

4 years ago

Keith

£5.00 + £1.25 Gift Aid

May the wind be at your back - go girl go.

4 years ago

Jackie

£10.00 + £2.50 Gift Aid

Naomi Richards is raising money for ENCOMPASS SOUTHWEST

Home is where you feel at home

Event date: 25th September 2016

My story

I'm running to challenge the stereotypes and prejudice placed upon us by society. I'm running to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping, and to reduce the impact of poverty and financial exclusion.

Those of you that know me well will know that towards the end of last year my life as I knew it crumbled around me. In the space of a couple of months I found myself out of a long term relationship, redundant from a job I was passionate about and out of the house I had once called a home.

Whilst this presented me with an amazing opportunity to travel it also brought with it the biggest, hardest and most overwhelming challenge of my life, encompassing all those that had gone before it.

The impact on my mental health was immense. I wanted to run away. I thought if I distanced myself physically from the people and places that had torn me apart I would be free. I was wrong.

It didn't matter where in the world I was or am, I couldn't and can't escape myself. My shadow was always there. Sometimes it would disappear but then as I wasn't expecting it, there it was, reminding me of my failings, ripping at my chest tearing out my heart so I could feel the pain of those that I have hurt and let down.

My shadow would try to steal my voice as I slept. I'd try to pull it out; I was having a contest with myself, which was stronger, me or it? I still don't know the answer.

Over the months that followed I searched for stability, sofa surfing between family and friends was taking its toll, sitting in my car late at night not knowing where I was going to sleep. I kept telling myself that I was lucky I had my family around and that I'd never be without a roof over my head. The truth is I have never felt so isolated and lonely.

My self-esteem and confidence was at rock bottom, I'd been offered and even started the odd job here and there but I found whatever reason I could to punish myself again and again and turn my back on these glimmers of hope.

No job, no home and an ever increasing tension between myself and those I was meant to be closest to and love.

Blessing came when through a cruel twist of fate I was asked to buy a Big Issue. I crumbled. The seller had an income, I felt like I had nothing. I couldn't even justify £2.50 for a magazine. So I am eternally thankful to my former colleagues at Young People Cornwall who responded to my tearful presence in the office that day and put me back in touch with Andy who offered me the chance to rent a caravan off him.

The same day I visited another old employer, Pentreath, and asked for help in another desperate and tearful plea. Thank you to Paul for sitting me down with a cuppa, letting me talk, discuss my options and make a self-referral.

Moving into the caravan, despite being leaky and a bit tatty in places gave me hope. I had somewhere that I could stay for more than a few nights, where people had to knock on my door and ask to visit. Within a week I had signed up to the Jobseekers Allowance (no, not the kind that gives you free NHS prescriptions or any perks). I was enrolled on Forest School training and had a new energy for seeking work alongside some voluntary work I had started.

It took longer to find work than I had hoped. People would say 'why don't you just apply for anything?' I was.

I would joke with people 'how have I gone from having a full time job as Project Lead for a respected countywide project with a decent salary to living in a leaky caravan, on antidepressants and claiming Jobseekers Allowance that doesn't even cover the £80 a week rent'.

I turned a blind eye to my bank account, I'd walk if I didn't have to drive, I stopped making an effort to see people, I would use the excuse that I couldn't justify the expense of fuel money. This seems to have now developed into a degree of social anxiety, yet somehow I managed to keep appointments and show my face where I 'need' to.

All the time I was putting on an act that I was okay, my best fake smile and illusion of confidence, maybe even stubbornness was paying off.

The food in the fridge was long past its use by date but I ate it anyway, if it didn't kill me it would make me stronger right?

One day I applied for a job as a Youth Homelessness Prevention Officer at Encompass Southwest in Barnstaple. I got an interview but I didn't get the job but they saw something in to me and offered me two days a week on another project whilst they waited on funding news. In the end I only did a few days' work, circumstances changed and decisions were made as I accepted a different part time job. time will tell if this was the right decision, but it felt right at the time.

In return for Encompass who work to prevent and resolve homelessness and rough sleeping, and to reduce the impact of poverty and financial exclusion giving me a chance, I have decided that my first challenge is the Barnstaple Half Marathon in September to raise funds for this small but massively inspiring charity.

You see homelessness doesn't just affect people who have lost their tenancy or been told to leave, it's not just people who have turned to drugs and alcohol and crime or fled abuse that end up with nowhere to stay. Everyone has their own story. I tried to escape by going to the other side of the world but it would have been just as easy, if not more so to turn to substance misuse. People should not be judged. Homelessness can affect anyone in the same way mental illness can. To the state people with no fixed address are treated like a 'nobody', you have to jump through hoops for your right to vote, to get a DBS check so you can work with people more vulnerable than yourself, to be entitled to any welfare benefits you are tarred with the same brush as those who take advantage of the system.

I have learnt that home is not necessarily where the heart is, or where family are. For me, I think home is where I will feel it. I am still searching for my home and for stability. There are still so many days, more often than not that I feel empty and hopeless, like a 'nobody' and have desperately tried to cling to anything or anyone that might 'rescue' me.

This is my journey though. I am learning to look for the rainbow in the thick grey clouds. I thank everyone who has made me smile and laugh along the way, they know who they are.

I am not asking for pity or kind comments, I am just trying to raise awareness of the invisible hardships people can face and challenge the stereotypes and prejudice so many of us have.

I've set myself a target of raising £100, it was the first number that came into my head but in 2003 the annual cost of homelessness was estimated at £24,500 a year for a single homeless person.

www.everyclick.com/naomi_richards/info


Thank you for checking out my page. Making a donation is fast, easy and secure thanks to Give as you Live Donate. They'll take your donation and pass it onto ENCOMPASS SOUTHWEST.

Naomi Richards is fundraising for

ENCOMPASS SOUTHWEST

Charity number: 1145286

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