A true Mansfield Hero
Mary White has an extraordinary story. Her relationship with homelessness starts as a 27 year old woman homeless with two very young children in Mansfield in 1966. Now at 77, Mary has collected her boldest memories of a turbulent journey from 'rock bottom' to acclaimed crusader for homeless people. As her autobiography suggests, Mary is a true Mansfield Hero. Framework talked to Mary to discover more about her past and why she is telling her story and raising funds in 2016.
“My Father suffered from alcoholism and my Mother suffered with bad health and I was brought up in a broken marriage. This had a big impact on my life. Throughout my childhood my parents problems worried me greatly as they could never find any happiness. I toughened-up but I also became concerned with others who were struggling, I cared about children that were bullied, I cared about people that was less fortunate and for some of the most vulnerable of our society.
“I was not really interested in getting married and yet it was my mother’s dying wish to see me married and settled before she passed away. I was married to give her that wish. I had two children and was a homemaker. Unfortunately it was a very bad marriage and I was subject to a lot of physical and emotional violence from my husband.
“At 27 I was so low that I contemplated taking my own life, in constant fear for my own and my children’s safety. I had been homeless on many occasions. My husband never worked to support me or our children. I had been the breadwinner working to feed my children and pay the bills. We were saved by a lady who had been my friend when I had worked as a bus conductress, a lady who cared and gave shelter to vulnerable people in Mansfield. She herself had suffered with homelessness with her young son Andrew. Her name was Janet.
“Janet became my mentor and taught me everything she knew and together we were able to support many homeless people in Mansfield. My book speaks of our plight together. I was with Janet until she sadly passed away from cancer and I made her two promises; firstly to bring up her son as my own and secondly to continue to fight against homelessness and to keep people off the streets.
“I kept both these promises and we had the best homeless hostels in the country for over 25 years. This book will raise funds for Framework who I have a good relationship with and who continue to do wonderful work in Mansfield and throughout the East Midlands. I’m also trying to thank all the people in the community who have helped me throughout my journey. I could never have achieved what I did without all the support I received from individuals and services in and around Mansfield.
“I realise that we will never solve the problem of homelessness however with help and teamwork together we can alleviate the issue and help some of the most vulnerable. Homelessness can happen to anyone and to any family. No one deserves to be sleeping rough without a bed or a roof over their head. The problem is escalating all the time. My life has been devoted to helping people and I’ll keep my promise and continue supporting charities such as Framework who will carry this vital work.
“At 77 years of age I’m doing as much as I can to continue helping homeless people by writing and selling this book. If I had the time and the energy then I’d start my journey all over again.”
We would like to thank Mary for her dedication to helping homeless people throughout her adult life and especially for donating book sales and royalty funds to Framework.