Ana came to Evolve in mid-2020. Since arriving, the extra space and security has given her the chance to pursue new projects. With a plan for a new business, and an online safeguarding guide coming out soon, she has her eyes on the future. This is her experience so far:
“Before Evolve, home was a very stressful environment. With my family there was a lot of arguing and disagreement; I didn’t feel like I had any space, or the freedom to do what was right for me.
That was nearly two years ago now.
I first thought about leaving home a few years before that. I even got in touch with local support services to see where I could go. In the end, I didn’t. I thought I could get through the family difficulties so I stayed where I was. After a while my case was closed. Several years passed, and then finally in 2020 I left.
I spoke to someone at the Fitze, Evolve’s service in Crystal Palace. After that I discussed moving out with my family, before meeting with Evolve and getting a room.
From the start, it was a positive thing. I suddenly had the independence to do what I wanted and the security to stop and think about the things I needed to. Having space, being away from the stress and the arguments, it made me feel that I could direct my life, for the first time.
My key worker is brilliant. It’s easy to call him and get a reply, and he always has time for me. I have a room with everything I need, and where I can take my time and relax – that’s such a different experience to before.
I’m quite a creative person, and a lot of things interest me. I’m currently writing a guide for women about how they can stay safe and look after themselves. I’m starting my own business too: eco-friendly period travel kits that people can just pick up quickly from the shop. They’re made of bamboo and easily portable. Since coming to Evolve I’ve made prototypes, and I’m looking for funding to help. With my living situation now, I am able to explore these things without worrying that I’ll be in someone’s way or someone will disturb me. It’s a good change.
Changing your situation is scary. Even if you don’t like where you are, moving can be nerve-wracking just because it’s new. That’s how moving to Evolve was for me, but I’m glad I did. This is the first time I’ve felt independent.
If you’re willing to work and go after what you want, this can be the best place. Evolve is what you make of it. You have your own space, staff understand what you’re going through. It feels so nice to finally be in control of my life.”
Since this interview Ana has subsequently finished two ebooks dedicated to women’s safety and living independently, and is looking at what projects will come next.
*The names in this story have been changed.