Annie, a nineteen year old woman contacted the service for support. She'd gone through a difficult life as her mother died when she was eleven and her father had brought her up. Recently his latest partner had moved in and there had been a great deal of friction at home between the women. They had asked her to find somewhere else to live by the end of the month. Having scoured the newspaper pages and trailed around local notice boards, she had got absolutely nowhere in finding somewhere affordable to live. She was trying to hold everything together with part time studying combined with working the till at Asda's. The stress of this really put her under pressure and she was on the verge of giving up her A levels in despair. Eventually she was put in touch with Women's Link by her local Citizens Advice Centre and here is her story in her own words.

"Dear Women's Link

Thanks so much for everything. I'm sorry I haven't got back to you sooner but I'm now living at the hostel you put me through to. The whole process of getting a place to live was really difficult and complex. In reading the guides that you publish, I notice you stress this too. I think this organisation is in a league of it's own for the work you do and your willingness to do battle in what seems really hard circumstances. On occasion, I have the opportunity to speak with people looking to know 'where they can make a difference' (or better where they can make a donation!), I will certainly bear you in mind.

Thanks again

Sue, a twenty-seven year old woman had been living in shared housing for over two years. She was finding it difficult to live there as she was on the top floor and finding the stairs too much on health grounds. The flat was also infested with rats as well as being damp and old. Her flatmate was unwilling to do any housework, so this was all left to her. She had recently got over pneumonia and was living with HIV, which was affecting her health. Her medication had to be kept in the fridge, which was awkward as her flatmate did not know of her medical condition. Women's Link worked with her health advocate to make a case to the local council at Hackney for her being rehoused on medical priority grounds. After much negotiation and pressure, they eventually offered her a flat from where she wrote the following.

"Women's Link

Through your services, I now live independently in a one bedroom flat in a beautiful part of London. My greatest appreciation to the advice worker whom from the first day I came there was extremely helpful, friendly and made me feel comfortable and more positive in my attitude to the problems I had at hand. Living with the HIV infection as well as being in an awful home environment had been causing me great distress.

Once again, my greatest appreciation and sincere thanks for attending exceptionally well to my problem. The patience and personality of the caseworker were amazing!

Thank you

Kim contacted the advice line one day at the end of her tether and feeling suicidal. After twenty years of addiction to drugs and alcohol, she had managed to stay free of these for over a year. Support from Narcotics Anonymous had helped her to remain sober. However, she felt this was under threat due to moving around from one friend to another staying on their floors. The reactive depression was being treated by psychiatric and anti-depressant help. Through this she had identified the root cause of her problems which were a way of coping with surviving sexual abuse as a child and having been a rape-victim in her teens. She felt her only chance to maintain her stability (and hold down her part-time catering job) was to find a safe self-contained flat. Through a specialist scheme whereby local councils let 'hard to let' properties, we were able to get her rehoused in an area accessible for work and her support services.

"Dear Women's Link

I am writing to you to thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me to find somewhere to live. Words cannot convey how much the stability of a home means to me and I'm deeply grateful for your help. I will never ever forget it. Having this security base gives me greater strength to face the other issues in my life (which you know about). If ever there is anything I can do to repay you in some way for your time and compassion please let me know. I could perhaps spare an afternoon to do some filing or make tea if you like. In the meantime, thank you again and please feel free to contact me at any time at my new address.

With best wishes