Rachael Levine studied on a 3-day residential Creative Writing course at Ruskin in 2010. Having endured a tough upbringing and a life of physical and emotional hardships, she dug deep and, with a little help from Ruskin, made a success of her life.
At school, Rachael was a gifted and talented student. She wanted to be a Doctor. At home, her father had left, and her mother, a nurse, struggled to put food on the table. Rachael had a difficult upbringing, attending 18 schools during her youth as there was so much moving around. Nevertheless she loved music, singing from the age of seven, and was a keen writer, gaining a commendation at 14. Though she was intelligent and studious as a youngster, moving schools didn’t help her education and at 16 she ran away to London.
At 17 she was attending college and this is when she got into music and started a band. Her love of music would be a constant feature of her life.
At 21 she became a single parent. She was finding life difficult, especially having to support a child. She was depressed. She answered an advert to become a call girl and would go on to live a double life for 15 or 16 years.
Her mother died in 2010 and this affected her terribly. It caused a physiological reaction, which left with swelling on the brain and the effects of neurogenic shock. She ended up drinking a litre and a half of vodka a day, partly to deal with the emotional and physical effects of her mother’s death. She would find herself on the streets for a year.
She was helped by the Crisis Skylight charity who got her into a homeless hostel. She was forced to turn her life around. She met a street cleaner at 4am one morning on the streets, when she was at rock bottom, feeling that she had lost everything. The kind cleaner told her that she could achieve anything if she could stop drinking. This was a turning point for her.
Once in the hostel, she began convalescing, and would again start her singing and writing. Crisis Skylight were so impressed with her writing, they encouraged her to use her skills. She then managed to get a flat in Whitechapel and was attending therapy.
In 2010, at the age of 39, she decided to enrol on a three day residential Creative Writing course at Ruskin College. She recalls beautiful people and a safe and welcoming environment – a complete contrast to living rough in London a year prior. The course kick started her writing and having praise and encouragement from others really spurred her on.
Her first book was published in 2013. She had written much of it in just six weeks, driven by a sense of time pressure as she had been concerned for her life in London. It was named The First Floor, the name of the homeless hostel she had lived in in London, and was an account of her life so far. Her second book followed in 2015 and was called The First Floor Revisited, a follow up to her first. Soon her third book will be published, entitled Return to the First Floor (Breaking Free).
Her good news doesn’t end there. She recently had a meeting with a film director, who is keen to turn her life story into a film. She has been asked to write a screenplay, based on her life and writings so far. She will begin work on this once her third book is published.
Rachael’s story is one of achieving even against major obstacles, and a how just a short course at Ruskin played a part in her changing fortunes. She says that she no longer suffers physical problems, though she does still have some short-term memory loss. She is now thinking about going on to do a PhD.