Helping mark our 50th anniversary, we’re getting to know some of the people making a difference in our communities.
Next up, Ballymena woman, Blair Anderson (27) has experienced being homeless on a number of occasions.
Now, a settled and proud Housing Executive tenant, Blair is a Youth Advocate Peer Mentor in the Northern Ireland Youth Forum.
She spends her time working hard to guide other young people who are at risk of becoming homeless too.
“My Homeless journey started when I was quite young and I did not really understand what it meant not to have a home.
“My mum moved between house-to-house and with grandparents. I had seen a little bit of hostel life and when my mum and dad broke up when I was 12, I understood what not having a home meant and my own homeless cycle started,” she said.
Blair fell pregnant at the age of 14 and was involved with social services for a time.
She added; “Life became a wee bit rough from the age of 16 which meant I had to go into my own hostel accommodation and I moved from foster care to Women’s Aid and a B&B all within a year.
“It was pretty hard I didn’t know where to go or what my life would be like. I was not accepting help coming my way, I had no guidance at that age, and I had no one to answer to but myself.”
Although life was tough for Blair at a time, she now thrives in her role with the Northern Ireland Youth Forum.
“I absolutely love my role and I am going through intense training involved with conferences, speaking at Stormont and CEOs of Housing Associations.
“I also support young people on a one-to-one basis who may be homeless or find themselves in that situation,” she said.
Blair offers advice to others who need support with finding a home, especially young people.
“I have done the housing advisory training through my role and it’s ongoing at the minute. I have learnt so much in the last few weeks for young people when they are presenting as homeless and helping them.
“I used to think of my experience as negative and it made me depressed. However, it has me where I am today.
“I managed to get through and I have a stable tenancy and it’s made me a better person today and I am mindful that people come from all walks of life,” she added.