Darren overcame relationship breakdown and homelessness to find his forever home with support from forfutures
Darren age 36 lived in Ellesmere Port and was a carer for his wife, his journey highlights the importance of projects like the SHINE Service in Ellesmere Port (Street Homeless Initiatives New Environment), which specifically caters to entrenched rough sleepers.
The Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme (RSAP) is a government initiative to support rough sleepers or those who have a history of rough sleeping and who have high support needs. In CW&C it is called SHINE and funds 7 homes in Ellesmere Port, with accompanying support services.
Darren’s initial struggles, resulting from a marriage breakdown which led to homelessness in March 2022, were compounded by poor mental health. Despite these challenges, Darren’s story shows the positive impact the forfutures team make, by putting the individual’s needs at the heart of all they do.
In May 2022, Darren took a significant step forward in his life when he moved into a SHINE property. His referral came from The Mulberry Centre (temporary first stage accommodation), where he had been living temporarily.
Bernadette, a dedicated member of the forfutures team, was there to support Darren. She met with him and they discussed what support Darren needed and jointly agreed a plan to achieve his goals. She explained that SHINE Service offered temporary supported accommodation for up to two years to help people make a fresh start.
Initially, Darren was reserved, but Bernadette’s consistent visits helped build a strong rapport between them. As the weeks passed, he felt confident enough to open up about his goals and aspirations. One of his main concerns was the need to reconnect with his daughter, who lived in Ellesmere Port with his ex-wife. The distance and the financial strain of travelling to see her weighed heavily on him.
Darren moved into a one-bedroom SHINE flat which he quickly transformed into a warm and inviting home. He took great pleasure in going to the gym every other day.
Darren also cherished the time he spent with his seven-year-old daughter during weekends and school holidays, often taking her to the local community hub The People’s Pantry for breakfast and to meet other children.
He had already been on West Cheshire Homes’ housing waiting list before joining SHINE Service, and Bernadette encouraged him to keep bidding for available properties.
Darren successfully secured a new build property—a ground-floor one-bedroom flat with a shared garden. Unfortunately there were delays with the completion which meant he couldn’t move straightaway.
The waiting took a toll on Darren’s mental health, but with support from Bernadette, Darren gradually began to feel more settled during this time.
Recognising the importance of a smooth transition from one support network to another, Bernadette referred Darren to the forfutures Navigate Team (Offer continuity with move-on support). Jemma from the team began supporting Darren, with her and Bernadette meeting with him alternately each week, allowing him to build trust with Jemma.
The turning point came in June 2023, when Darren was informed that his new flat was ready for viewing and signing. The flat was beautiful and spacious, and the shared garden provided an ideal space for his daughter to play.
Darren said: “Forfutures have been great overall, Berni has supported me well throughout my time, from offering me a place on the SHINE project to moving onto my final home.
“She helped me with household things and all the things associated with a house, not just that, but her regular visits kept me upbeat and her support overall was fantastic. I am grateful to all forfutures staff for all they have done for me.”
Bernadette Bancroft, Tenancy Support worker at forfutures said:
“I have never seen Darren smile so much as when he finally moved into his home.
“This was a bittersweet moment for us – our first SHINE move-out! I was sorry we were losing Darren but happy he had finally got his forever home.
“Darren’s journey serves as an inspiration, reminding us that with dedication and collaboration, we can make a difference in the lives of people facing homelessness.”
Darren’s feedback speaks volumes about the impact of forfutures on his life. The consistent support provided by Bernadette and the entire forfutures staff helped him navigate his way to a stable and brighter future.
If you’re in the Cheshire West and Chester area and are at risk of becoming homeless, contact Housing Options on 0808 175 3595 (option 2) or via their website www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/residents/housing/housing-advice-and-homelessness/housing-advice-and-homelessness. Cheshire West and Chester Council can support you to identify the help you need and the housing options available to you.