Rachel (name changed for anonymity) came to Barnabus in September 2018. She had lost her job and the property she was living in was attached to her employment which made her homeless and destitute. She was very much out of her depth and did not know where she needed to go or what to do.

The council declined Rachel's application for duty to house; she suffers from epilepsy and has an autism diagnosis, but had only been in Manchester for three months so the local authority rejected her priority housing request.

This was incredibly stressful for Rachel; she was very scared about her future. Our support team made a successful referral to the Narrowgate Night Shelter in Salford but unfortunately Rachel got lost and ended up sleeping rough again that night. The next night we helped Rachel to find the shelter; however due to her autism, her anxiety and sensory issues she was unable to cope with the dormitory accommodation. Rachel decided to use her last little bit of money to book into a backpackers; she knew this wasn’t something she could sustain but she felt it was her best option at the time.

Our support team decided that Rachel would be a good client for our Resettlement scheme. Aimee, our Resettlement Worker, took Rachel to view a property. She was happy with the room in the shared house and wanted to accept it straight away. 

There was a complication: Aimee was a birthing partner for a friend of hers who went into labour that same night. Aimee had worked all day and gone straight to the hospital to stay with her friend through the night. The Barnabus team is always astounded at Aimee's determination to do the best she can for her clients: she left the hospital the following morning, having had next to no sleep, and headed straight over to collect Rachel. “I was absolutely exhausted but it was so important to get Rachel out of the situation she was in as the small amount of money she had was running very thin staying at the hotel”.

Once she had settled in, Aimee helped Rachel with her CV and Rachel got a job at Greggs. She put her all into this job and was really enjoying it. Rachel was eating well, looking after her home and managing her tenancy, she was really happy with her life.

Rachel then started to suffer health problems; she seemed to become very breathless and was really not very well. After a few weeks of GP appointments, Rachel ended up in hospital. She was diagnosed with immune deficiency disorder; this was a blow for Rachel and she seemed to struggle with a lot of tasks she had previously found easy. She had to leave her job at Greggs as she now found it too physically demanding.

In early 2019 Rachel asked to meet with Aimee and explained that she had made a decision to follow through with the feeling she has always had during her life. She had always felt that she was a woman and wanted to live as a woman. Aimee told Rachel she was very proud of her as making a decision like this would be a huge change and that she would support her in any way she could.

Rachel wanted it to be a very slow transition so at first, she made the choice to gradually start to alter her appearance, having her nails done, looking for wigs, trying new looks with makeup and even creating and designing her own clothes.

Rachel decided that she would visit a friend in Lancashire, and that when she returned she would take a new name. To support her through this change and to make Rachel feel as comfortable as possible with her transition, Aimee had her tenancy details changed and made everyone who could come into contact with Rachel aware of the change.

This year, Rachel started an Open University course in Computing and IT. She is almost ready to become completely independent; she doesn’t need as much support these days from our Resettlement programme but she would prefer to remain supported whilst she is going through her transition.

Aimee says: "I have loved working with Rachel; she is a real inspiration to us all, she is always so positive and always sees the good in the world".