Brighter Futures’ customer Will had become homeless 3/4 years before being supported by Housing First, when he was evicted from a council flat, he lived in for 18 years, for having a pet.
He explained he “carried on staying on the streets with (pet) then I got in touch with the rough sleepers’ team, and then they got me in the hostel then”.
Stakeholders who knew Will at that time recalled major concerns about his poor physical health, mental health and addictions: “he was so entrenched and poly-drug use, the only thing that was mattering at the time was his peers and his drug use and where his next fix was coming from”. Will joined Housing First in August 2018, whilst in a hostel. He remained in the hostel until his tenancy started in December 2018.
Will had previously had an unsuccessful stay in supported housing. Stakeholders reflected that this failed because it was not in the right location for him, and he required more time from support services than they were able to provide.
Both Will and the people interviewed about his case agreed that being involved with Housing First had made a huge, positive difference for him. Will commented: “They’ve done loads for me, they’ve been brilliant. I don’t think I’d be where I am now if it wasn’t for them, I don’t even think I’d be here”.
It’s also perceived that the stability the service provides both in terms of a property and the consistent support was key for Will. That the service remained there for him “through thick and thin” (and irrespective of drug misuse) was considered important by stakeholders, as was the focus on understanding his needs and what was important to him. Importantly, the location of the property was “right”, where he wanted to be, and Will explains “it was lovely, they got me and (pet) in a safe place”.
He remembers it was decorated, furnished and ‘all painted’. Stakeholders also commented how settled Will seems and observed that “this place was home”. The service also provided stability in terms of getting his benefits in place, a GP and on a methadone script which he has maintained throughout his tenancy. As one stakeholder summarised: “Everything has been a massive leap”.
Will’s health and wellbeing has improved, and his relationships with family members have benefitted; he has reconnected with his mum and grandchildren since being involved in Housing First: “I’m just in a happy place. I’ve got my own place so no one bothers me, I’ve started talking to my mum as well. Compared to a few years ago, life’s changed 100%, it’s so good”.
His service coordinator explained that, because “Everything is in place now” for him and he is in the process of connecting with a peer mentor who has shared interests, they may be able to “pull back even further with him”.
With Housing First, a case would not be closed. It provides support and accommodation separate – so Will can access further support again whenever he feels he needs it.