Housing First – Michael’s story

After years of sofa surfing and rough sleeping Michael has finally found a home of his own thanks to the team at forfutures and their implementation of the Housing First approach.

Forfutures works across Chester and Cheshire West to help improve the lives of people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The team works with partners to support people into safe, secure housing and offers opportunities to build a brighter future.

Michael moved into his new home in March this year after having nowhere to live for 3 years. He’s since been making the most of the support offered to him to seek help for drug addiction.

Housing First was first introduced in England in 2010 and is an approach to tackling homelessness that has been undertaken in a growing number of local areas across the country. It follows a model developed in the US and successfully implemented in several other countries worldwide.

Housing First supports homeless people with complex lives and a history of 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.

Michael was fostered from the age of nine-years-old and when he left full-time care aged sixteen he developed a dependency on Class A drugs. He has siblings in the south of England but had little contact with them over the years he has been rough sleeping.

He slept on friends’ sofas but struggled to stay for any length of time because of his addiction issues and kept ending up back on the streets in Chester.

It was during one of his periods of heavy drug use that Michael was attacked randomly one night, leaving him with damage to his back and neck. Sadly, this has left Michael with problems with both his lungs and his feet which has reduced his mobility.

Michael carried on rough sleeping in Chester after the attack, but after contact with forfutures’ outreach team, he moved into temporary accommodation, and began to engage with the help and services offered.

During the pandemic, Michael was moved into a hotel, which gave him an opportunity to manage his own place. He began to realise that a new way of living was possible for him. Then, in August 2020, Michael moved to the Mulberry Centre, which offers temporary accommodation, and started to address his drug use.

Now Michael is happily settled in his one-bedroom flat through the Housing First scheme and is successfully managing his home without any issues.

He is taking positive steps to look after himself by reaching out for support when needed and addressing problems head on as they arrive.

For example, in the first month of moving into his new home, Michael suffered a bereavement. With help from forfutures and other support services, Michael did not turn to drugs during this difficult time for him.

He said: “I’m really proud to say I’ve now been drug-free for a year and plan to stick to it. I can’t thank forfutures enough for their help. I don’t know where I’d be now without them.

“It’s changed my life having my own place after so many years of living on the streets. After the attack I was really scared. I can sleep at night now without worrying and know I’m safe.”

Housing First takes a people-focused approach to support vulnerable people on a new pathway. Forfutures are working with Michael as he continues his journey and to support him to overcome future challenges and to achieve his goals.