A mother has told how she has slept rough all over Stoke-on-Trent in a sleeping bag after losing her home.
Rachel Clempson, 46, was addicted to drugs and alcohol and lost her home in Stafford after her ex-partner went to prison.
The mum-of-one said: “I lost my home in Stafford after I was kicked out by my landlord.
“I was living with my ex-partner and he ended up in prison. It was his property so I had to leave.
If you’re on the lookout for local news, we have you covered with our FREE email newsletter – sign up in the box at the top of this story or click here.
“I was sleeping rough before I came to the Macari Centre, I was sleeping everywhere. I was just in a sleeping bag, it was not nice at all. I was jumped a few times. It’s definitely worse as a woman. I didn’t get much help from people, even though I’m a woman.”
Rachel was living at the old Macari Centre before they moved to their new base in Regent Road, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The new location is much more spacious and airy, which has made social distancing much easier – there is even room for residents to cycle down the ‘streets’ between the pods.
Rachel now lives in her own housing pod complete with a TV.
She has been free from drugs and alcohol for three months and says she has even put on weight.
Rachel said: “I managed to get a bed at the old Macari Centre before they moved here due to the pandemic.
“I used to have problems with drugs and alcohol, but I’ve been free from that since I’ve been here. The Macari Centre has helped me a lot and I’ve even put a stone on.
“I’ve had issues with addiction for 32 years and it feels really good to be off it. I love the new pods and they feel much safer.
“Lou Macari is ace. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the Macari Centre.”
Rachel will be spending Christmas at the Macari Centre this year.
She added: “We will get some board games out.
“I’m really happy staying here for the moment and I’m keeping in touch with my daughter.”
Lou Macari opened the original Macari Centre in partnership with the city council in 2016, and it has been well-used ever since, with around 40 residents now living there.