'No Place Like Home' by Jane Brotchie (on behalf of the Homeless Women's Project) is available, price pounds 6.50, from The Homeless Women's Project, c/o Threshold, 1st floor, 79 Buckingham Road, Brighton BN1 3RJ. Names and identifying details have been changed in these stories.

Irene, 48, is staying at a hostel. She has three grown-up children.

I CAN'T believe I'm here. I used to have a good job - I enjoyed it, lots of company, it was always a laugh. When we got married, he asked me to give it up. The wife is supposed to be at home doing all the chores. I couldn't stand the quiet. My husband was knocking me about a bit, things got to a pitch, so I just upped and left.

I stayed in a hotel all by myself. Then I came here. I've been to the job centre, I've been looking in the papers. I want a job; I don't like benefits. But walking round all day gets on your nerves. You can't look for jobs all day. I feel guilty about being in this position. I don't want my children to know what's happened. He wants me back. I just feel out; between two worlds. Heaven knows what the future will bring.

Sheena is 37 and living in a bed and breakfast hotel with her 14-year-old daughter and four-year-old son.

THE BIGGEST problem is coping with two kids in one room. One is doing GCSEs and other wants to play. They fight and get depressed. My husband was violent so we left home and are waiting for a court order to remove him. We had a three- bedroomed house in a nice area. I didn't want to go to friends, it's too much to ask with two children.

I had no freedom at all - he used to lock all the doors. My daughter suffered too. She made me take the step to go, she was frightened he would kill me. The electricity is so expensive I couldn't afford to heat the room all day in winter. I try to go out - to the library, swimming pool or the shops. Some days I get very low. I really need to meet other women in the same situation.

We can smell lots of drugs at night and I get frightened. The toilet is down the corridor, so I always accompany my daughter, then we put chairs up against the door. Last night there was a fight outside our window. It's the children I worry about.

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