The forfutures team are constantly working together with vulnerable people to provide them with a brighter tomorrow, and Patricia’s Story is no different.

Born and bred in the Northwich area, Patricia  had a rough few years after her flat was taken over with drug activity and she became a victim of cuckooing. After Patricia was forced to sleep under a bridge in a tent, the forfutures team stepped in to give her the vital support she needed.

Thanks to the amazing support from Forfutures team member Lisa Walker, Patricia now finds herself five months sober, in a lovely flat in Chester city centre with views of the Welsh mountains,andlives a fulfilling, independent life. These positive changes to Patricia’s life have given way to a bustling enthusiasm for helping others, which she does through volunteering and charity work.

Learn more about Patricia’s story below!

 

Ian had been sleeping rough in Chester for a long period of time.

He found himself isolated and was estranged from his Liverpool-based family, including his 13-year-old daughter.

Aged 45, he was dependent on drugs and struggling with his mental health. He had difficulty engaging and dealing with agencies, professionals and support services.

Eventually, Ian began to engage with forfutures

Forfutures, in partnership with Cheshire West & Chester Council and other organisations, supported Ian to move into his own home under the Housing First scheme in October 2019.

Housing First is an evidence-based approach to successfully supporting homeless people with high needs and histories of entrenched or repeat homelessness to live in their own homes. It is a different model because it provides housing ‘first’, as a matter of right, rather than ‘last’ or as a reward

Ian was offered a tenancy from a housing association, and wrap-around support by forfutures.

The transition from rough sleeping to living in a home was a gradual process for Ian, and he needed a lot of reassurance and encouragement.

Over time he built a good relationship with his forfutures support worker and is really starting to turn his life around.

He is now registered with a GP and is getting the support and medication he needs to help him manage his mental health and he is also engaging with a drug support worker to deal with his addiction.

He is claiming the benefits he’s entitled to and has a bank account. He’s even started volunteering at a community café which gives him a feeling of belonging and that he is contributing to the community.

Ian has also been in touch with his family and is rebuilding his relationship with his daughter.

forfutures support worker Clive Richards said: “It’s been great to see the changes in Ian’s life. There have been such massive improvements in his lifestyle, health and wellbeing and self-esteem.

“He now has somewhere safe and secure to live to carry on rebuilding his life and his relationship with his family.”

Claire* is working towards moving into her own home for the first time in ten years after a decade of sleeping rough and substance abuse.

The 35-year-old had become known to homelessness services in Chester because of her chaotic lifestyle.

She had never managed to stay in temporary or supported accommodation to access the support she needed due to her daily substance abuse. She also frequently came to the attention of police, serving regular short sentences in jail.

It was clear her mental health had been affected by using drugs.

However, after engaging with forfutures Claire is now accessing around the clock support at a supported accommodation service in Chester.

She is sharing a flat and, with support from the forfutures team, is finally working towards moving into a home of her own – something she has not had for 10 years.

Stephanie Grime, Accommodation Services Manager at forfutures, worked with Claire to support her to take the next step to getting her life back on track.

She said: “Claire will be moving to a dispersed property, where we will visit her weekly to provide her with support to maintain her tenancy and eventually move into her own long-term home.

“She will need to manage herself and engage with services to reduce and stop the substance misuse. She needs surgery that cannot be carried out until she has done this, which is providing her with the motivation she needs.

“We are working with partners to ensure her support is intense for the first few weeks. We then aim to advocate for her to be able to gain her own tenancy and have her own home for the first time in a long time, which will be a fantastic achievement.”

Claire said: “I am so thankful for the support and opportunity forfutures has given me, I have not had my own front door for 10 years. This is a big step for me and I am proud of what I’ve achieved.”

*Name has been changed to protect identity

Becky, previously sleeping rough, has improved her health, turned her back on drugs and moved into a home of her own thanks to support from forfutures.

The 53-year-old was using drugs and sleeping on the streets in Chester when she first made contact with forfutures’ outreach team in May 2018.

Becky had faced a number of periods sleeping rough before eventually moving into a forfutures service in Chester. Forfutures is a service delivered across west Cheshire that provides support to people who are at risk of homelessness or who find themselves without a roof.

She remained in the service for 18 months with 24-hour support, working with forfutures staff to improve her life and prepare herself for living independently in the future.

During this time forfutures provided her with intense support around health, budgeting, lifestyle choices and challenging behaviours.

Becky was supported to reduce her substance misuse, which was having a negative impact on her complex health issues. Because of the positive changes she had made to her life, forfutures was able to support Becky to find a suitable home of her own near to her family support network in Chester city centre.

Stephanie Grime, Accommodation Services Manager at Forfutures, said: “We put a case forward to West Cheshire Homes to allow Becky to bid on properties as she wanted to remain in the city centre.

“During this year, we supported her to address her health needs and her wellbeing. Becky took part in activities and consistently engaged with staff at the service. Things haven’t been easy for Becky but with support and her own inner strength she persevered and was eventually offered a one-bedroom flat in the city centre.”

Becky said: “I’m so happy to have my own place in the city centre and have the support of my daughters around me.”

*Name has been changed to protect identity

Stephen had been homeless and sleeping rough, whilst struggling with his mental health and alcohol addiction. His wish has always been to have a place he can call home.

After he engaged with the forfutures outreach team, he became one of the first customers to stay at Hamiltion House, a homeless assessment and support facility in Chester.

The facility was Government funded to provide services to people who were sleeping rough. It allowed rapid access to welfare services and a bed whilst the most appropriate support and accommodation was identified.

From here, Stephen moved into supported accommodation. With support, Stephen abstained from using drugs and reduced his drinking.

Stephen said: “My support worker from forfutures has worked hard to find the right home for me. I felt I needed to make changes and I no longer wanted to live like that. I won’t say it was easy and I had a few hiccups but I am no longer drinking daily.

“I recently got the amazing news that I was being given a place to live in Middlewich. I have my own flat in supported accommodation with my own front door. I have staff there 24/7, who are working with me on my living skills. I still engage with drug and alcohol services as well as mental health services.

“I am now looking forward to the future. I know have money to go and have lunch and cake with the friends I have made – where I only have a glass of coke.”

Jacob*, who is 43 and from Ellesmere Port, was sleeping rough and struggling with alcohol addiction when he was introduced to forfutures.

Less than a year later he has a place to call home, he is engaged to his girlfriend and has a baby on the way.

Jacob was employed on a temporary contract, and when it ended he started struggling financially. He was living in a shared house with no tenancy agreement, and when he was late paying his rent the landlord evicted him immediately. In December 2018 he found himself homeless and sleeping on the streets.

During the winter months when the temperature at night drops dangerously low, Cheshire West & Chester Council activate their Severe Weather Emergency Protocol, known as ‘SWEP’.

This means that emergency accommodation is made available so nobody has to sleep rough, and forfutures works alongside the council to provide this accommodation.

Once Jacob became known to the team we started providing support immediately. He became one of the first customers to be helped as part of the newly introduced Rapid Rehousing Pathway, a government initiative to help rough sleepers, and those at risk of rough sleeping, access the support and settled housing they need to leave the streets for good.

Lisa Walker, Rapid Rehousing Pathway Navigator at forfutures, began working closely with him. The team had already identified that Jacob had problems with alcohol, but Lisa started to notice a decline in his mental health.

She managed to secure Jacob a place in temporary accommodation at Phoenix Lodge and then started working with him to develop the skills he needed to find employment and manage a tenancy successfully. He completed numerous courses and started volunteering with local charities.

Lisa said: “Jacob’s sense of wellbeing improved drastically. His mental health issues and problems with alcohol were addressed and he is rebuilding relationships with his family.”

After nine months in temporary accommodation, he moved into his own home with ForHousing, a progressive landlord.

When he started getting into rent arrears, Lisa realised that things weren’t right and she addressed it with him personally. She discovered that Jacob had started a relationship but the person was stealing from him.

They worked together with other teams to address the rent arrears so his tenancy wasn’t at risk.

Jacob said: “I am in a much better place now. I’ve realised that although I will have good time and bad times, I’ll always have the support of Lisa and the team at ForHousing and they can help me work through my problems, I just need to be honest with them.”

*Name changed to protect identity.

Graham was facing a life living on the streets after he was struggling to make ends meet while living in his two-bedroom house which he was renting privately.

He was only receiving £78 per month from his personal pension, and due to the “bedroom tax” his Housing Benefit didn’t fully cover his rent.

He wasn’t claiming any other benefits and was borrowing from his family to get by.

Graham had got into rent arrears and had been issued with an eviction notice by his landlord.

The team at forfutures – which works with people across Cheshire West and Chester who are facing homelessness – was able to step in and work with Graham on a long-term solution.

Robert Lloyd, a Homelessness Prevention Worker at Forfutures, spoke to Graham’s landlord and arranged for him to stay in the property for an extra three weeks until he could get back on track.

Robert then worked with Graham so he could take back control of his finances – applying for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) to cover the shortfall in his rent, along with an application for Universal Credit.

When it became clear that Graham was struggling to apply for alternative housing as he had no access to the internet, Robert spoke to West Cheshire Homes and requested assistance for Graham in bidding for properties.

He was accepted for a one-bedroom flat which was within his budget and was able to move in before he needed to leave his previous home.

Robert and Graham worked together to move all his priority bills to Direct Debit to help him manage his regular payments. He also attended a Work Capability Assessment, which will determine the amount of Universal Credit he will receive in the future.

Robert said: “Our main aim is to prevent homelessness before it happens, so it’s great that we were able to step in and help Graham before he was evicted from his home.

“The kind of support that we offer is vital for many people in our community who want to create new possibilities for themselves.

“It’s so rewarding to know that we’ve really made a difference to someone and helped them find a suitable, secure home.”

Matt was homeless and suffering from poor mental health when he took the decision to turn to forfutures for help.

Less than 12 months later, he is living in his own flat, has completed several educational courses and has built a new circle of friends.

Matt, who is from Chester, was working full-time in a supermarket when he began to suffer with mental health problems. After being referred to a psychologist by his GP, he was given medication, but this didn’t work for Matt and he suffered from auditory hallucinations – meaning he could hear things that weren’t real.

He began to miss work and found himself living in the woods, which led to him losing his home. He went to live with his parents but was admitted to hospital after suffering a breakdown. He became homeless again after being discharged.

Everything changed when he began engaging with forfutures and found the supported accommodation at Hamilton House in Chester.

Working with support staff, Matt has successfully applied for sickness benefits, has moved to his own flat supported by staff in Ellesmere Port, and is on track to move to independent accommodation.

He has attended courses in peer mentoring, DIY and IT, and has completed the For Change course. Following a referral from forfutures he is working with New Leaf, a programme which supports people from across Cheshire to move closer to employment, gain some basic IT skills and promote further independence.


Matt has also taken up running and attending the gym to be more active.

He is awaiting a health diagnosis but is making excellent progress.

“Matt has been a pleasure to work with,” says support worker Lisa Walker. “He is a very genuine guy and always attends appointments. He has never lived in Ellesmere Port before but has settled in really well. He has come to like the area, which he feels is the best place for him to settle and he has started to build up a network of friends.

“Matt is very grateful for all the support he has received from forfutures and Share, another organisation working to help people who are homeless. He says he has never felt so supported and can see a future no matter what his health diagnosis brings.”

Safeen is back in a home of his own after finding himself sleeping rough in a park in Chester.

After fleeing from Kurdistan, Safeen had come to the UK hoping for a safe place to call home.

He had been part of the Asylum Seeker Programme in another part of the country but had to leave after experiencing harassment. Leaving his allocated city meant he lost any entitlement under the programme.

Whilst visiting a friend in Chester, Safeen was offered a job in a fast food shop and some temporary accommodation.

Safeen later lost his job, and that also meant he had to leave the room where he was living. After finding out he wasn’t entitled to interim accommodation, Safeen resorted to sleeping in a local park.

He had been introduced to the Forfutures service through another refugee he had been learning English with.

When he approached Forfutures for help, the team worked with him to apply for the appropriate benefits and found him a place to stay while he worked on a longer-term solution.

The team helped Safeen to fill in an application form for social housing. A local housing association had a suitable flat which was ready to let, and Safeen was offered the home straight away and signed up the following day.


In Kurdistan, Safeen was a fully qualified nurse, with support from partners, New Leaf; he has found a job in social care in a caring capacity. Forfutures will support him to explore ways Safeen may be able to retake nursing qualifications in the UK in the future

“Safeen found himself in a vulnerable situation” said Lee Byrne, Homeless Prevention Manager at Forfutures.

“Everyone deserves a safe and secure home. Visiting us at the information hub meant we could work closely with him to get him off the streets and into a home, where he can now continue to create a new life here in Chester.”

Our forfutures team, which provides homeless support services across Cheshire West and Chester, recently worked with Edward to stop him being evicted from his home, reduce his debts and get him on the right track for a brighter future.

David Routledge, Homelessness Prevention Worker, first met Edward in April 2019 whilst he was receiving treatment at the Countess of Chester Hospital after being found by police in the city centre in a confused state.

He was referred to the forfutures homeless prevention team as he was facing being evicted from his home on 1st May 2019, due to rent arrears of more than £2,000.

David supported Edward to get legal advice from a solicitor, including providing proof of benefits for legal aid, so that the eviction was stopped.

David then helped Edward to review and take control of his finances.

This included applying for and securing a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) to cover his rent arrears.

This was awarded due to Edward’s vulnerability, including a history of mental health issues and alcohol dependency which meant housing benefit should never have been paid to him directly. David helped ensure an alternative payment arrangement for his benefits was set up, to help ensure Edward’s rent was paid on time in future and no further rent arrears built up.

When it became clear that Edward was struggling with other financial issues, David arranged some specialist debt help from Citizens Advice. They managed to clear all his water arrears, set up an affordable payment plan with TV Licencing and arranged a council tax reduction.

David worked with Edward’s solicitor to arrange a psychiatric assessment, to look at his understanding of finances and the courts process. The psychiatric report identified that Edward has difficulty understanding financial and legal matters because of his mental health problems.

Following other assessments, further benefits were secured for Edward, and David supported Edward at various court appearances and helped him keep his home, avoid eviction and gain more financial stability for the future.

Sanctuary Housing, Edward’s landlord now receive direct payments paid on his behalf by Universal Credit, along with all service charges. As long as this continues, Edward will be able to remain in his home.

Edward has been introduced to the Chester Hub Service for any other support he may need to keep a roof over his head and manage his home going forward.

David said; “When I met Edward he was particularly vulnerable and about to lose his home. I’ve worked with him for around 4 months and in that time we’ve really turned his situation around. He’s secure and feeling more settled in his home, especially now that he’s received a washing machine and cooker through the Cheshire West and Chester HELP Scheme, which offers emergency assistance on a case by case basis for people in need in the local area.

“I’ve signposted Edward to the New Leaf programme, which supports people from across Cheshire to move closer to employment, to gain some basic IT skills and promote further independence.

“At forfutures we’re dedicated to preventing homelessness as we’ve managed to do with Edward. We would encourage anyone at risk of homelessness to get in touch with us.”

Edward said; “I can’t thank David and the team enough for their help. I don’t know where I’d be now if it wasn’t for his support with sorting out my debt and benefits. I’m feeling much more settled in my home and more positive about the future.”

*Name changed to protect the identity.

When Sarah, first contacted forfutures she was struggling with debt from personal loans and with her mental health.

She was experiencing post-natal depression following the birth of her son five months earlier. He had been placed into foster care and was later adopted.

Sarah was determined to change her circumstances.

After getting to know the team at forfutures, she opened up about her struggles, explaining that she had three other children, who were also in foster care.

Sarah, who is 34, had found herself in an abusive relationship and addicted to drugs, which had led to her losing custody of her children.

She does all she can to see them and loves her visits with them, but she’s no longer able to see her youngest child since the adoption.


To help her with her financial problems, forfutures worked with Sarah to apply for a Debt Relief Order and get further guidance from Citizen’s Advice.

Sarah has been able to start clearing her debts and hasn’t missed any payments for her current home.

She has been diagnosed with Asperger’s, which she believes is one of the reasons she has struggled in the past.

Sarah attended coaching sessions run by forfutures. These helped to boost her confidence, which led to her making some big changes. Following the sessions she joined a local gym which has led to improvements in her physical and mental health.

After building her confidence Sarah eventually revealed her passion for art – showing some of her work to the team.

Sarah has even compiled the artwork and poetry into a book, which is now for sale on Amazon, dedicated to her children.

“When I first met Sarah, she really seemed to lack self-esteem and confidence” said Berni Bancroft, Case Coordinator at forfutures.

“After working with her for eight months, I’ve noticed huge changes in her health and her outlook on life. She’s much more positive now and has asked to be referred to our Gateway Programme, which helps people who are or who have been in violent relationships.”

“She will soon be moving in with a member of her family, and I wish her all the very best for the future.”

Sarah said: “Berni helped me improve my self-confidence by accessing a free gym membership and helping me create a book of my artwork and poems. She also helped me with an assessment so I could receive my diagnosis of Asperger’s. She has been a great help and it has been a pleasure knowing her.”

Gemma*, 18, was referred to forfutures after being made homeless following an argument with her parents in which she was asked to leave her family home in Chester. She was very upset and feeling overwhelmed by the challenges she was facing of finding somewhere to stay. As a full time student, she had no option of any benefits, and, after her boyfriend’s parents became unhappy with her staying with them, she ended up spending a few nights on the streets sleeping in an entry. Forfutures Support Worker Berni worked with Gemma* to find a room in a shared house and put her in touch with the local foodbank so she could eat. However, Gemma* was working just to pay the rent, and had no money left for anything else. The pressure of working nights and attending college in the daytime took its toll and she ended up in hospital.

Following encouragement and support from Berni, she realised that she couldn’t continue living in this way and Gemma* got back in touch with her family who immediately came to pick her up and take her home. She is now back to full health and at university in Wales.

Support Worker Berni said: “Forfutures aims to prevent homelessness and work with anyone at risk to plan a way forward that enables them to turn their situation around. I’m delighted that we could help Gemma* to rebuild her relationship with her parents and reach a point where she could move back home and away from the hardship she was experiencing. I am sure that her determination and focus will mean that she is successful in all that she does in the future.”

Gemma* name has been changed

Forfutures women’s group, which recently met the Queen, offers women from all backgrounds the chance for a fortnightly get together at the Storyhouse in Chester.

Fourteen families from Syria have come to Chester and Ellesmere Port through the government’s resettlement programme. Forfutures has been providing them with a range of support from linking them into health and education to settling into the community.

The group was set up at the end of 2017 after forfutures identified that many of the women in these families were feeling isolated and not getting out much.

One of the volunteers that helps run the group, and translates for the members when needed, is a former Syrian refugee herself who has built a successful life in the UK.

Meeting regularly for cake and coffee provides an opportunity to share their life experiences, how they are finding living in the UK, and plans for the future.

Now eight months on the group is going from strength to strength and is involved with a variety of community projects.

The group were delighted to meet The Queen and the Duchess of Sussex earlier in June at the Storyhouse in Chester.

Now their latest project has seen the 12 group members create artwork which was displayed at Chester Cathedral for Refugee Week which took place in June.

The exhibition entitled ‘objects lost and objects taken’ showcased their work which expressed their feelings about items lost or taken from them during the war in Syria.

Painting, drawing and cross-stitch were some of the methods the women used to create their art. Some also used their skills to make embroideries, clothes and crocheted items for the exhibition.

The project was led by art psychotherapist Rachel Roberts over several weeks in the run up to Refugee Week.

Rachel said: “The aim of the Art Therapy process was to empower the refugees and to keep them feeling psychologically safe, acknowledging that many had experienced challenging and difficult events in their lives.

“Many of the refugees experimented with painting and drawing for the first time and the exhibition represents their very genuine and wonderful responses.”

She added: “The images produced depict symbolically and metaphorically objects that are cherished, some left behind on their journey, some that are part of their new life in the United Kingdom. Invariably the most important objects represented symbolically are family members.”

Commenting on her experience of the project, one participant said: “The activity was a very nice experience. I love manual work and drawing.”

Another said: “The artwork was a great idea to release our creations. I really appreciate being part of it.”

Laura-Leigh Thompson from forfutures said: “The group is really going from strength to strength and most importantly is helping the refugees feel part of the community and less isolated. We were all really proud of the beautiful artwork the women produced for the exhibition at Chester Cathedral as part of Refugee Week.

“The recent royal visit was the icing on the cake and a dream come true for the group. I know that some of the women had always hoped to meet the Queen once they knew the UK was going to be their new home.”

Following nine years of alcohol misuse, Alison* had fallen into a cycle of regularly presenting at A&E with serious injuries that she suffered while under the influence.

Her visits to A&E could be as much as three times a week, but following joint working by the forfutures team and the mental health coordinator at the Countess of Chester hospital, Alison has begun to turn her life around, remaining alcohol free for over 40 days so far.

Following joint visits to her house by the teams and working with other agencies to engage her in support, Alison is now attending mindfulness classes and is working to address the causes of her alcohol misuse. She is continuing to work with a forfutures support worker and is now taking positive steps to improve her life, including volunteering on an allotment project with forfutures.

Sarah Ellis, forfutures Accommodation Manager, said: “Alison has made huge progress because she has been determined to improve her life, after she was able to access the right support at the right time for her. Partnership working has been crucial to achieving this, the smooth transition from the hospital’s alcohol liaison service to the forfutures support has been instrumental to Alison’s recovery.”

Alan Williams, Mental Wellbeing Coordinator at the Countess of Chester’s Emergency Department, added: “I started my position nine months ago and initially went outside of the hospital to meet with organisations who I believed may be able to support our patients at point of access. When I met with Sarah at forfutures she was extremely enthusiastic and shared my vision for seamless care provision for those who needed it most and from there, we worked hard to open up lines of communication.

“Through collaborative working we have been able to engage with three individuals with complex needs who were either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, and they now have secured accommodation and have support in place, I’m looking forward to continuing this valuable work under the umbrella of forfutures and developing more innovative ways of supporting individuals at the point of crisis.”

*Not her real name

When Sylvia* moved into temporary accommodation she had become dependent on alcohol and was struggling with debt issues. She had been a victim of financial abuse which had led to her losing everything, including the home she owned.

Sylvia slept rough in an abandoned caravan for a year before moving into temporary bed and breakfast accommodation for six months. Sylvia, who is in her 50’s, was then referred to forfutures managed temporary accommodation in Chester by the local authority.

With support from the forfutures team, Sylvia addressed issues with her benefits and council tax arrears that had led to debt and set up a bank account of her own. She is now sober and receiving support from her GP to continue to abstain from using alcohol as a support mechanism.

Forfutures worked in partnership with Cheshire West and Chester Council to find Sylvia a suitable property with Sanctuary Housing to move into. The team supported Sylvia to arrange her new tenancy and set up payment of her rent and utilities, also supporting her to apply to the council’s Help in Emergencies for Local People (HELP) scheme which gave her a grant so that she could furnish her new house and make it feel like home.

Sylvia feels her confidence and resilience has been rebuilt in the two months she has had the support of Forfutures. Sylvia said: “Once I settled in I felt comfortable and the support I had from everyone was top class. I never knew where to go for help before I went there and without the support from the team I wouldn’t have coped.”

Now, Sylvia has moved into her new home in a sheltered housing scheme in what she describes as a lovely, quiet area. She said: “I’m just so happy to have a home of my own again.”

*Not her real name