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How homeless prevention boss beat drug addiction

Jenny Travassos, head of homeless prevention at City Hall, turned her life around after becoming a volunteer at hostel

19 October, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Jenny Travassos: ‘I found myself helping people who were in the same lifestyle I had got out of’

FROM the east coast of the United States to drug addiction, rehab, motherhood and a new life and career at Westminster Council, it’s been quite a journey for Jenny Travassos, head of homeless prevention at City Hall.

Her work with the homeless and rough sleepers was recognised at a ceremony in Manchester celebrating Women in Housing.

She said: “I grew up in a ‘normal’, supportive middle-class family on the east coast of the US and, upon graduating from high school, I went to university but started making some very bad decisions.

“By the time I was 24 I had moved to London, long having dropped out of university and life in general. Things started to turn around when I met my husband and became pregnant with my daughter – we knew we had to make a change to our lives and we did.”

Aged 26 in 2004, Ms Travassos started volunteering at a women’s hostel in Southwark before becoming a support worker. “I found myself helping people who were in the same lifestyle I had got out of,” she said.

She joined Westminster Council in 2014 and leads the rough-sleeping team as “head of prevention”.

Her role could mean dealing with anything from people fleeing domestic violence, young people leaving care and going into more independent housing, and prevention of homelessness in the community.

She said it was important to maintain a “connection between people and the council”.

She added: “I know how hard it can be to start the process of making a big change in your life for the better. If we can help someone to do that, we’re doing our job.”

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