In our work with homeless charities and Housing Associations, we often hear stories of ex-homeless people struggling to adapt to living in a home of their own. Rough sleeping often means having people around all the time, with very little privacy. Moving into a homeless hostel can create a new sense of community with other residents, staff and visitors. But after months or even years of this moving into a new, empty flat can be daunting and lonely. In some cases newly housed people have fallen back into damaging behaviours or even chosen to live on the streets again to escape that loneliness. That is why we believe it is so beneficial for newly housed people to have a TV or a radio to make their house feel like a home. In this week’s blog, Blackpool Coastal Housing tells us about how they helped Mr A move into a home of his own, after sleeping rough for 5 years.
Blackpool Coastal Housing first learned about Mr A last November. An old commercial garage was due to be knocked down, and the Housing Services Advice Team was called in because someone was living inside. The Team went to investigate and found that Mr A had been living in the garage with no heating, cooking or washing facilities for about five years. He had no income and owned nothing but the clothes on his back.
At first Mr A refused to leave the garage, but the HSA Team went back to visit regularly and Mr A eventually agreed to visit BCH’s Emergency Housing Hostel. After seeing it for himself, he reluctantly agreed to move in.
Due to Mr A’s poor mental health it took some time for him to engage in support from BCH staff, but through their perseverance, Mr A’s health and wellbeing began to improve. He was given all the essential items he required including clothes, toiletries and cooking utensils, and his long hair and matted beard were cleaned and cut. Staff also helped with vital life admin, including helping Mr A to register with a GP, apply for and receive ESA, and feel confident in bathing and cooking for himself.
Once Mr A was settled enough to move on from the hostel, he was reluctant to do so. The Hostel is intended for short-term stays in emergency situations and isn’t a permanent home for its residents, but Mr A felt happy there. Any attempts to talk with him about where he could live more long-term caused him to become anxious and upset. After a lot of persuasion Mr A agreed to move into a flat that is part of BCH’s Sheltered Housing Scheme, and after a rocky start he quickly settled in. He made himself at home with new cushions for the sofa, pictures for the walls and a mirror for the bathroom. We also provided him with a WaveLength TV so that he wouldn’t feel so lonely living by himself in his new flat.
Thanks to all the work of BCH staff across all different teams, Mr A is happy in his new home.