Nine-year-old Kimberly Denny remembers how her
parents lost their home, leaving her and her mother to live in a
I remember that I only managed to smile about
five times in one year. I was very angry. I had every reason to
feel this way. I was just seven years old and I was homeless.
When mum and I arrived at the first hostel we
stayed at, I remember thinking this was not home. It was a big
dirty place with blocked toilets, and filthy carpets littered with
rotten sweets. We were treated like neglected animals; simply
ignored. I felt like I wanted to punch someone really hard in the
face. I kept asking myself why are we being treated so badly? It
was just bad timing. The landlord had increased the rent on our
flat and my mum’s teaching salary wasn’t enough to afford the
She wasn’t to blame for our homelessness, but
I only had one person to direct my anger at… sadly it was my mum.
Well, I couldn’t take it out on my dad, because my parents split up
when my mum was pregnant with me. I have never seen him and
probably never will.
At school I hid my anger, but dreaded when the
teacher said: “It’s time to pack up your things and get your
coats.” It was home time but I had no home to go to. I was going
back to a cramped room I shared with my mum, which used to be a
prison cell for women. When my teacher found out about my situation
I was given a “kindness award” for keeping my emotions inside, and
not taking them out on any of my school friends. I was presented
with this award in front of all the children in the school. I felt
very proud of myself, but I was also so nervous I almost fainted.
The other children in the playground told me they felt sorry for
me. I felt happy, safe and secure at school.
Back at the hostel I became frightened to
leave the building, even with my mum. At night, I was afraid that
someone would break into our room – it wasn’t that secure. There
were regular break-ins and a lot of families staying there had
things stolen. My imagination created monsters that would break in;
they were the intruders I feared the most. I would also have
nightmares about been taken away from my mum, but sometimes in
those dreams I would get rescued by a lioness. I also dreamt of
being a princess and having everything I ever wanted.
Although my situation was bad, I tried to make
my time in the hostel fun. I had two good friends, but I didn’t let
them get too close to me just in case I took my anger out on
When mum and I got a new home, I was the
happiest girl in the world. I started smiling again. I felt great.
Having a place to call home, with my own bedroom, made me feel like
celebrating – and that’s just what I did with my school friends. My
mum is now returning to teaching and we have a permanent home.
Some children at school tried to blame me for
having been homeless. I asked them why are they blaming me now? I’m
no longer homeless. I told them that was the past.
But I haven’t totally forgotten about it…it
was a part of my life, and when I see homeless people I can’t look
at them, because I think about my own experience and I just want to
cry. I think where are these people going to end up?
This article was produced by Kimberley
Denny, aged nine, a member of Children’s Express. Children’s
Express is a programme of learning through journalism for young
people aged 8-18. More information at www.childrens-express.org