After being homeless for six years, Laura Fieber is in a career, about to buy a house and get married - thanks to the Sheffield charity Nomad Open Doors.
“I was one of the hidden homeless,” said Laura, now 27 and a housing officer with the charity.
“I was constantly on the move. Only the kindness of friends who offered me their sofas kept me from sleeping on the streets. I wouldn’t have dared to dream about the life I have now.”
Laura, who now lives in Hoyland Common, Barnsley, had an unhappy childhood in Scunthorpe and fell into depression aged just seven. She left home at 16 and at 18 moved to Sheffield to live with a boyfriend. When the relationship ended, Laura was homeless again.
Her mental health problems had worsened by the time she was referred to Nomad, which helps people transition out of homelessness and develop skills through education, employment, training or volunteering.
Laura’s support worker Karen Awdhali, who is now her boss, found accommodation for her and became a mentor, encouraging her to volunteer with Mencap, then with Nomad itself.
Laura’s commitment and intelligence shone and eventually she landed a paid role as a Nomad Project Support Officer.
Laura is now building her future through study. She gained an NVQ Level 2 qualification in Challenging Behaviours with Sheffield training providers The Source Skills Academy online during Covid-19 lockdown, and is about to begin a one-year Level Three apprenticeship which qualifies her to become a team leader
“We are so proud of Laura. She’s a valued member of the team,” said Karen, who is now Nomad’s Head of Services.
“When she asked to study for a team leader qualification I went to The Source. They suggested an apprenticeship, which meant 95 per cent of the training costs are funded.”
Said Laura: “This will be the highest qualification I’ve ever had and will help me grow my career. My job gives me security, self-esteem and a future. I can buy my own home, plan my wedding and help people who are where I was in life.”
Vernon Tolson, business development officer at The Source, said: “We help many charities to develop their staff through training and apprenticeships. We are a charity ourselves and are proud to help Laura on her career path so she can support other people battling homelessness.”