Caitlin Platts was overwhelmed by the generous donations from strangers so she can start her new life after beating the drugs and securing a place to live
Image: Caitlin Platts)
A young homeless woman who turned away from a life of drugs has been inundated with support from her community.
Caitlin Platts, who’s currently in supported living accommodation in Middlewich, Cheshire, has spent most of the last two or three years moving around hostels or living on the streets.
The 21-year-old, who grew up in foster care, said she went ‘off the rails’ after turning 18 and began using drugs – mainly cocaine as well as amphetamines and ketamine – which left her ‘financially ruined’.
She has now been clean for the last few months and has been offered a council flat in Nantwich after months of bidding via the Cheshire Homechoice social housing service.
After being unable to afford utensils and furniture, Caitlin’s friend Ella Blake put out an appeal for help on a Community Facebook group, asking if anyone had any spare items like pots or pans, Cheshire Live reports.
But the response was beyond what Ella expected, with people donating a television, kitchen furniture, a wardrobe, bedside drawers and curtains as well as Christmas cards and presents.
The scale of the community’s kindness has overwhelmed Caitlin, who initially didn’t even realised Ella had written the post.
She said: “I was really amazed, I didn’t expect anything like this, I really didn’t. I was just thinking I’d be moving into a flat with nothing in it. I’m just so, so thankful for what everyone has done.
“It has given me a bit of hope in people. No-one has ever done this much for me in my entire life.”
Ella, who works as a carer, said they’d been friends for a couple of years and spotted she was moving near where she lived in Nantwich when Caitlin posted the news on Facebook.
Ella initially searched Facebook Marketplace before she had the idea of seeking help on the Nantwich Community page.
The 30-year-old said: “I don’t think she even knows the extent of how kind people have been. They’ve sent her Christmas presents, perfumes, toiletries, a massive TV and kitchen furniture.
“She’s been on a bit of a journey without a doubt. Hopefully all the trouble and turmoil is coming to end. I think everyone just wanted to give her a bit of a fighting chance.”
Caitlin has lived a tough life up until this point, growing up in Derbyshire with her mum, dad and three siblings.
Her parents struggled with drugs themselves and when Caitlin was seven, social services took the children into care.
“My mum and dad were heavy drug users and I’ve got three other siblings. I don’t think they could cope, especially with being younger parents as well,” Caitlin said.
“We just ended up getting put in care. My mum had no choice. One day we had social workers at the door. We had to pack our stuff and go within an hour. That was it, I didn’t know where we were going.”
She spent the rest of her childhood in children’s homes, getting ‘moved around’ a lot, while she attended school and college.
At 16, she moved into Cotswold House in Winsford – a supported accommodation for homeless people – as she had nowhere else to go.
But when she turned 18 she started struggling with drug abuse and spent a lot of her time living on the streets, including around the Crewe area.
“When I was 18 I just went off the rails. I think, because social services weren’t involved anymore, I just felt like I could do what I want,” she said.
Caitlin eventually ended up at The Limes in Middlewich where she is currently getting help with her drug issues.
She is due to sign for her new flat on Monday (December 13), said she is looking forward to the next stage of her life.
“I’m just really excited because I’ve never had my own tenancy before. Obviously I’m not going to get as much help as I do here with managing my own tenancy but I think I’ll get the gist of it,” she said.
She’s hoping to find employment through the Job Centre as soon as she can and will continue to receive drug rehabilitation treatment.
Ella said many of the items given by the community are being stored in her lounge, which she described as currently looking like an ‘underground IKEA’.
She said: “It’s nice to see that no-one is judging anyone for the circumstances they’re in. Instead of putting people down, they’re getting behind them and helping out.
“Nantwich is a wonderful town for the sense of community and the way everyone has really come together for a complete stranger is amazing. It is certainly humbling without a doubt.
“With everything going on in the world, the fact that the community still works together like this is incredible.”