18 months ago Adam was living in a tent under a motorway flyover, now on World Homeless Day he is celebrating being ForHousing’s very first Housing First tenant
Adam, from Hastings, became homeless after a family relationship broke down. He felt unhappy with where he was living and the people around him and was struggling with his mental health.
The 28-year-old and his best friend, who he describes as being like a brother, decided to leave Kent, travel and visit some family in London.
After that they started looking for a place they could afford to rent together. They had £4,000 they had saved between them towards a deposit.
They found an agency in Stoke on Trent that they were going to rent a home with at a good rate but were devastated when they were defrauded of more than £3,000 of their money by the firm.
Adam and his friend were staying in a hotel at the time and they made friends with someone who was from Ellesmere Port and decided to travel there in early 2018.
With the little money they had left they bought a tent and a camping stove and took a train to the town, prepared to be homeless when they got there.
Adam and his two dogs, Lady and Sparkle, and his friend, lived in their tent under the flyover at the M53. They felt safer sleeping rough there than in some other areas.
Adam said: “It was a difficult time, for the first six months we were in Ellesmere Port we relied on friends and staff at the local Costa for help and foodbank vouchers.”
Clive Smith from forfutures, was doing outreach work with the team when he met Adam and his friend about 18 months ago. He built a relationship with Adam over time, providing support including advice on benefits and linking him up with a GP to get support with his mental health and substance misuse issues.
Ultimately the team supported Adam to apply for his own home through the Housing First initiative.
Christine Black who heads up the Housing First project for forfutures, explains: “Housing First provides a stable base for people who have been homeless straight away and then builds tailored support around it. This turns the usual approach on its head – people usually have to jump through several hoops before getting a home.”
The Housing First approach has been lauded internationally and has gained traction in the past few years in the UK as a new model for tackling homelessness.
Using government funding, forfutures is now underway with a 12-month Housing First pilot project with partners in the Cheshire West and Chester area.
Christine added: “The local housing associations all jumped straight on board including ourselves at ForHousing.
“The project is getting off to a great start but it’s early days. We look forward to reviewing the progress of the pilot this time next year.”
Housing First is just one of the innovative approaches ForHousing are taking to help people who are homeless and prevent homelessness in the first place.
Clive, who is now a Housing First support worker, said: “Adam engaged really well with the services we linked him up with. So well, that the council granted him a local connection after six months, enabling him to move forward with his application for a home in the area through Housing First.”
Before moving into his own place, Adam spent time in a pathways hub at Hamilton House, Chester, to help him with the transition from life on the streets to living independently.
The hub helps people get into a routine, for example by having a shower first thing in the morning and cooking for themselves.
Now Adam has become ForHousing’s first Housing First tenant through the pilot. He moved into his own home in Ellesmere Port this summer.
For the next year he will have a Housing First support worker on hand to help him settle into life in his new home and living independently.
Adam said: “While at Hamilton House I tried to help and got involved with any activities that were going on.
“You see some people kicking off and not trying. You’ve got to work at it, you can’t expect everything handed to you on a plate.
He said: “I’m doing really well now and I’m really happy in my new flat. I’m settled in my place with my dogs, I’ve got my wi-fi and computer and I just found out an old friend lives down the road from me.”
Adam also took part in ForHousing’s Heads Together for Homelessness event which brought together a range of partners and people who have experienced homelessness to discuss ways to tackle the issue.
“I took part in an event about tackling homelessness last week and it was good to tell my side of the story.
“I would definitely recommend forfutures to others, my Housing First support workers, Clive and Elaine, have been great.
He added: “I’m fully trained as an IT technician so I hope to get some work in that area in the future.”
Clive said: “It’s great to see how Adam is rediscovering skills he had before he slept rough – he’s doing really well.
“Adam has taken positive steps to build a better future for himself and it’s been great to see his confidence and self-esteem grow. He has a lot of skills to offer, particularly around IT, and we wish him all the best for the future.”