A millionaire’s daughter traded her lavish lifestyle of luxurious holidays and designer accessories for three nights of sleeping on the streets.
Isabella James, 21, wanted to change peoples’ perceptions of her in Rich Kids Go Homeless, a Channel 5 series which follows privileged young people living on the streets of London.
The 21-year-old, who is studying for a masters in business psychology while working as a talent scout, said she wanted to prove she wasn’t a ‘princess’ by taking part in the show.
Isabella, who goes on six holidays abroad each year, and owns a designer wardrobe which includes an £8,000 handbag, didn’t want to resort to begging while on the streets.
Before appearing on the show, the 21-year-old said, as per the Daily Mail, she believes some homeless people have become ‘comfortable’ with their situation and don’t have the ‘get up and go’ to make a change.
There is a lot of drugs and a lot of drinking and the homeless could do more to get themselves off the streets.
Isabella added that she didn’t believe in begging, because ‘expecting people to just hand you money when you haven’t worked isn’t right’.
However, after spending one night on the streets of Stratford, East London, her viewpoints drastically changed and she was left feeling ‘degraded’.
Isabella spent her first night lying on a piece of cardboard in a sleeping bag, and the next morning attempted to sell recycled plastic to supermarkets. When this failed, she tried to get a job in a car wash and as a pot washer – but was ultimately unsuccessful because she didn’t possess the correct ID card.
At this point, the 21-year-old admitted she felt ‘frustrated’ and soon began to think that work wasn’t an option: ‘I just feel completely degraded,’ she said.
Isabella eventually caved and begged for her supper, sharing her story with passersby and managing to make £45. However, instead of spending the money on a hostel, she spent it on breakfast for herself and a fellow homeless person in the morning, after crying herself to sleep.
After spending her final night on the street, the 21-year-old returned to her old life with a completely different attitude, and even petitioned the government to change the law to make it easier for homeless people to get ID.
I’ve had to face up to some hard truths and my bubble has been popped. My initial ideas were proved wrong. I didn’t realise how difficult it would be to find work or somewhere to stay.
The experience has been overwhelming and it’s tested me but it’s also taught me a lot about being homeless.
While the talent scout was initially unsuccessful in her petition, she has pledged to try again.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).