When challenged to look at what ‘home’ means to us, we usually revert to the homes of our childhood: friends, meals, pets, games, pictures, the presents we got and gave, even the rows we had. Our homes as adults can re-invent the homes of our youth. We can impose our view of home on others. Not everyone’s experience is one of warmth – some people’s memories are of violence, abuse, hunger, pressure, loss of a loved one, no hugs or encouragement. When someone who has been homeless for some time gets a house or a flat, it is not a guarantee of a happy home. It can bring with it other problems: the pressure to become part of a community, to cook, to maintain the space and to pay rent. The fear of not being ‘successful’ at making a home can be a huge burden. The person may not want to ask for help or have anyone that they can ask. They may lack the basic skills that many of us take for granted: cleaning, budgeting, turning on and off the gas, changing fuses. They may leave the front door open, lose keys, leave a tap running or drop a burning cigarette. Their inability to cope can reinforce low self-esteem and make the person feel a failure. Understanding these difficulties, while still having a respect for someone’s right to privacy, could go some way to helping the person to feel more at home in their space.
Taken from TRUST information booklet 2000