'˜I was lucky, I guess you could say'
THIS year's News Comfort and Joy Christmas campaign aims to support charities and agencies that help vulnerable people in our city.
Stephanie Newell knows better than most why these services are vital in the city.
The 20-year-old told us her story.
‘I was 14 when I moved out of my parents’ house and for seven or eight months I lived in car parks, doorways, flat stairwells, anywhere with a bit of shelter.
‘I was lucky I guess you could say as nothing bad happened to me but it was a very scary time.’
Stephanie went to live with a friend and was referred by social services to a youth hostel.
She added: ‘By this time I was smoking legal highs on a daily basis and I didn’t really care about myself or my future.’
When Stephanie turned 17 she moved in to the Portsmouth Foyer.
She said: ‘I didn’t have many friends and had a very bad attitude but for the first time for as long as I can remember I was clean.
‘Despite having a decent room and 24-hour support, I felt it hard at times to control my temper and eventually this lead to my eviction.
‘I was depressed and had no hope of the future.
‘This was a very troubled and dark time and looking back I have no idea how I survived.’
Stephanie was given another chance at Portsmouth Foyer and enrolled on a creative skills programme in order to gain qualifications.
She said: ‘For the first time I had something to focus on, to wake up in the morning for and something that I was actually good at.
‘From the course I was fortunate enough to get an apprenticeship at the Guidhall and I love my role.
‘I don’t know where life will take me but I know I have come a long way and services like the Foyer are giving chances to people like me.’
HOW TO GET INVOLVED...
TO GET involved with this year’s Comfort and Joy Christmas Campaign follow these steps.
1) Buy a Christmas card and write a message (please do not include your name and address)
2) Purchase a supermarket gift card of £5
3) Put the gift card into the Christmas card envelop but do not seal the envelope.
4) Place in a larger envelope (seal this one) and send to Deanery Office, St Faith’s Church, Crasswell Street, Portsmouth PO1 1HT
Alternatively take the envelope with the gift card and post into the post box at Tesco Extra Fratton, Fratton Way, Portsmouth PO4 8FD