After finding herself homeless at the age of 11, Georgia Hardie has turned her life around, built a successful career and helped inspire others through charity work.

 

Georgia was forced out of the family home by her alcoholic mother’s unpredictable behaviour, ending up alone on the street in the middle of the night after a series of rows.

Desperate and in tears, she called her older sister, who was living in a room in a hostel.

With nowhere to go and not yet a teenager, Georgia had to live in secret in her sister’s room, trying to keep out of sight of hostel staff as well as avoiding drug takers and drunks also living there.

By hiding under the bed, pretending to be a visiting guest and staying some nights at friends’ houses, Georgia was able to keep up the pretence for three years.

She says: “Being homeless at 11 is terrifying. You feel isolated and stressed.”

By the age of 14 Georgia had moved into a room of her own in a council-run hostel. Surrounded by older people and with no support, she would sit alone in her room for hours, too scared to come out.

Attempts to find support from her local authority at the time proved fruitless. Georgia, now 23, says: “I remember when I first went down to the housing office, they asked me if I was pregnant or had a child. I told them no and that I was only 14, and they said: ‘I suggest you leave then because we can’t help you’.”

Georgia was going to school when she could, but she missed lessons and left at 17 with few qualifications. She was moved into a council flat in a deprived area of south west London. With no skills, Georgia hit rock bottom.

The start of her remarkable turnaround came when she was appointed a support worker from homeless charity Centrepoint. Georgia says: “He dragged me to north London and sat me down with The Prince’s Trust.”

The Trust was reaching out to unemployed young people through its Get Into Construction programme. Georgia applied and was stunned to discover she had been accepted.

She remembers: “I always wanted to be a carpenter as I was a bit of a tomboy. But I didn’t think I would ever get onto a course. I was expecting them to say you didn’t get it as that was what I was used to.”

She was offered two jobs as a result and is now a site manager for SDP Solutions.

Georgia now rents her own flat. She is also involved with training other young people to work in construction.

She says: “There was a time I thought I wouldn’t have a job, let alone a career that I love. The training element of my job is important to me because if I wasn’t given the chance then I don’t know where I’d be.”

After The Prince’s Trust helped her, Georgia wanted to give something back. She now volunteers with the Trust, fundraises and helps run workshops with the Encompass Trust, which aims to bridge cultural barriers.

She says:

People can be quick to judge others, from the way they look or where they come from. I’ve felt judged and I don’t like it. People assume a lot when they don’t know, and that’s why I think it’s important to try and bring people together.

 

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