Partnership approach helps homeless people put a roof over their head
16 October 2018The Council’s Housing Options team is working successfully with its partners at forfutures to improve the lives of people who have been homeless for decades.
Among them is Liam, 45, who has been living on the streets of Britain since he was 25.
Liam, whose name has been changed, has spent most of his life in fear. Fear of getting attacked on the streets, fear of getting help and fear of not knowing where his next drink is. It was fear which put him in this situation in the first place and fear which has kept him there, until now.
He had been living on the streets for so long he considered that to be ‘home’. But now, with the help of the Council, its housing management provider ForHousing and its support service provider forfutures, he has been given a home away from the streets in the form of a flat in the borough.
He said: “When I moved into it I couldn’t stay in the flat. At night time I still slept out in the streets because I wasn’t used to having a roof over my head. I would go back to the flat occasionally. I still can’t sleep on the bed, even to this day, I sleep on the floor or on the sofa.”
Liam considers himself to be a ‘loner’. His feelings of loneliness began at the age of 10. Despite having a family, he struggled to build good friendships and would choose criminal behaviour as a way to bond with others.
Circumstances resulted in him living on the streets of Britain from the age of 25. He said: “I just started thumbing. I went to East Scotland and stayed there for a couple of months and then Edinburgh, Newcastle, London. The whole time I was living on the streets.
“This went on for years. I was scared and didn’t want to associate with anybody. I just wanted to go somewhere, basically crawl up and die. So I found drinking, shoplifting and thieving to feed my habit. My habit is drink.
“No one came to try to help for the first ten years, not until I got to Chester actually when I was helped. I stayed in Chester for a long time but then got into trouble and went to prison for three years.”
When Liam got out of prison he returned to what he knew best, living on the streets, but help was soon around the corner.
He said: “The Outreach officers came to see me on the streets where I was bedding down and approached me. In the past no one ever approached me in other places.
“I brushed them off because I didn’t want any help. I don’t know whether I was in denial or a stubborn little brat. They kept coming back. I brushed them off again, and brushed them off.
“Somebody came and said that they would put me in a shared house. I was in there for three weeks. ForHousing then got me a flat which was really good but it was scary.”
Liam says he finds living day to day scary, trying to cope with his new life under a roof and coping with his alcohol addiction. He continues to be supported by forfutures to help improve his life further.
Liam added: “I have started to sleep in the flat more now. I still go out at night time and sit on the bench, sit there watch the world go by and have a drink. Go to sleep on the bench for a couple of hours and wake up freezing and then go back to the house. I’m still getting used to having a roof over my head, having a kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom.”
Councillor Angela Claydon, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “The Council’s partnership with ForFutures is already proving to be successfully in its first six months with many people like Liam being offered support to live different lives.
“The Housing Options team at the Council is the first point of contact for people seeking help when they are facing homelessness or are already homeless.
“Housing Options help people facing the loss of their home by negotiating with a landlord, maximising their income, referring them to other agencies, or finding them homes in the private sector.”
The Housing Options team at the Council is the first point of call if you face losing your home within the next 56 days or if you are already homeless. To contact Housing Options call 0300 123 2442 (option 2).
The Housing Options team will refer people to forfutures for early information and advice if they are at risk of losing their home or feel their only option is to leave home. You can also contact forfutures direct by calling 0300 123 2442 (option 3).
If you are concerned about someone sleeping rough, contact forfutures on 0300 123 2442 (option 4).
People can also self-refer on our website and get more information about the service offered by forfutures by visiting forfutures.co.uk.
Liam in the foreground with forfutures outreach worker Clive Richards