From rough sleeping, trauma, prison and addiction to thriving in a home of his own Trigger warning: contains some reference to addiction and self-harm Alan* had recently left prison when he came to see us for support. Before that, he had been sleeping in a tent for four years. He met Jenna, one of our case workers, and she was able to refer him to some temporary accommodation in Oldham. Alan was very grateful to have a more solid roof over his head, but he did struggle with the distance because he has some contact with his family based in Manchester. That’s when Aimee, our Resettlement Tenancy Worker, met Alan. In this blog, she describes the help that he received next… Getting to know Alan Jenna approached me to see if we could help find accommodation for someone who was on the road to addiction recovery. Alan was very keen to help himself, and at the time was on a methadone script and engaging fully with his drug support worker. I talked to Alan about what our support plan could look like. I got to know what his hopes were for the future, what support he would like or feel able to cope with, and what his interests are. We agreed that he would need to engage with us on a day-to-day basis so that we could help him more fully. Alan jumped at this offer; he was really keen to take on the support and wanted to make it work. We made a successful application to Big Change MCR, a central fund to help people experiencing homelessness, to help towards Alan’s deposit for accommodation. From there, we were able to take Alan to view a property and sign him up to a tenancy agreement with the landlord. It was a shared house with three other gentlemen who were also in need of a higher level of support from our team. Equipping Alan for independence Alan and his fellow tenants have all committed to our engagement and support plan. And it’s an important part of the plan that they all settle into their new home, build good relationships between each other and their neighbours, and feel connected to their local community. We want Alan to build in confidence, hone his skills, and to be motivated to take more ownership for his tenancy as he gets more and more equipped to return back to independent living. So, we began by working together to get his Universal Credit details updated. We then registered Alan with a local GP and pharmacy, and even managed to get him a birth certificate so that he could have some form of ID. On a more personal note, we gave Alan a journal so that he can see the progress he’s making. It also acts as a place where he can keep key documents and information about his home. We arranged for experienced drug workers to visit him and his housemates too, so that they could be encouraged and inspired in their recovery. Our support team supplements their work by helping Alan and the other tenants build up their skills. This includes buying good value, healthy food and cooking together, as well as making their house into a home by painting, decorating and gardening. Helping Alan feel supported – body and mind Alan suffered from a lot of childhood trauma. On many occasions we talked about what happened, how that made him feel, how he had responded to this in the past (previously, Alan had unfortunately used self-harm as an outlet), and how he wanted to respond to this in the future. He felt safe talking to us about his past, and said that being able to open up and be listened to and supported was really helping him to cope. In addition to these mental health concerns, Alan has a lot of physical health challenges. He gets very breathless, has COPD, and suffers with his joints. I decided we should apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for Alan, so we sat together and filled out the application form, and I prepared a support letter. Alan was granted PIP and this made his financial situation much better; he was able to manage his money more effectively and felt more supported. Encouraging Alan to make the final leap In March 2021, after six months in this shared tenancy, I felt Alan was ready for the next step. As this would involve him moving into his own flat and reducing the level of support he was receiving, he was understandably a little apprehensive at first. This was a big change, after all. I explained to Alan that this was all part of his journey and I believed he was ready for this jump – he agreed! Alan is now happily and confidently living in his own one-bedroom flat. He keeps it to a high standard, he supports his neighbours by helping the lady downstairs maintain the garden, he routinely vacuums all the communal areas, and he manages his money really well. He still worries over bills, but knows that I’m always on hand to support him through any letters he receives. Now in regular contact with his adult children and thriving in his new environment, Alan is a true inspiration. He proves that anyone can make that change with the right support, some self-belief, and plenty of encouragement. We couldn’t be more proud! *Name has been changed to protect our friend’s identityIf you are a landlord and have properties in the Greater Manchester area please contact [email protected] Alternatively if you would like to support us financially by sponsoring or supporting our life-changing Resettlement Tenancy Scheme we would love to hear from you, please contact [email protected].