Speech Debelle - Speech Debelle Felt 'Stuck' During Homeless Years
British rapper Speech Debelle has told how she felt "trapped" living in homeless shelters in London before launching her music career.
The hip-hop star - real name Corynne Elliot - left home at 19 years old after a series of arguments with her mother, and took refuge in a women's only hostel in the British capital.
But after years spent living in various shelters, Debelle decided to give up her bed to allow for others who desperately needed the space.
She recalls, "I was seeing a lot of women who had been beaten or abused, some of them with small children, and I remember thinking I don't need this space like they do. I also began to realise that I was stuck... Finding myself trapped in a room not growing or working was too much to deal with. So eventually, after nearly four years, I went home."
Now Debelle, who won Britain's prestigious Mercury Prize in 2009 for her debut album, is speaking out about the lack of social housing in the U.K. in a bid to raise awareness of the growing problem.
She says, "Homelessness is increasing quickly, help is hard to find and too many vulnerable young people in this country are beginning their adult lives thinking about day-to-day survival rather than their own futures...
"Things are much harder now. There's less space in the hostels, waiting lists are far longer, rents and deposits are higher... For some young people, the risk of sleeping rough is the grim reality they face every day...
"Not having a stable home has a damaging effect on your health, self-esteem, your confidence, and your ability just to get on your own two feet and make something of your life."