Paul's story - Housing First

Paul's story - Housing First - 22/03/2022

“It’s really hard for people to get their head around a situation where someone could be tempted to re-offend, just so they would have probation services back in their life”, says Rachael Martin, Housing First support worker in Sheffield.

“That’s the situation Paul was in recently. He had successfully completed his probation period, so the support of his probation worker was withdrawn. It’s really positive that Paul hasn’t reoffended for so long as he’s been in and out of prison for much of his life. But when you don’t have a stable family environment around you, having support removed, albeit for positive reasons, can feel destabilising and isolating”.

“Things are going well for Paul at the moment, but that hasn’t always been the case. For many years, he’s been rough sleeping in the city centre, moving between various temporary accommodation providers and prison. He has physical and mental health difficulties and walks with a stick due to leg ulcerations. Before we started working with Paul the accommodation he was placed in was largely inaccessible to him. He struggles with stairs, so couldn’t use his bedroom or bathroom. He spent the majority of nights sleeping out instead”.

“We moved Paul to a hotel which was much more accessible for him and started to work with him under the Housing First offer. I became Paul’s support worker and started building a relationship with him, steadily encouraging him to start accessing services again. Paul had a lot of appointments to attend; the GP to get his legs dressed, hospital appointments due to DVT, substance misuse appointments, meeting with the HAST team and consultant psychologist for his mental health. Gradually he started to engage more and spent more nights at the hotel, and less sleeping out”.

“Paul was making good progress, and in January this year moved into his own flat. We’ve steadily been getting the flat sorted, carpets fitted, a coffee table and a lamp, and a bed. He’s still sleeping on the floor as that feels more like what he’s used to, but he is keeping the flat in great condition and making it feel like home.”

“Paul’s engagement with me and with services has been improving since he got his own flat. He finds it hard to trust workers, as other workers in the past have left to move to other jobs, and I think he keeps expecting me to do the same! He needs stability, as that’s what helps him to keep on track with everything. He’s taking more responsibility for managing his medication and budgeting. We’re waiting to hear back about his PIP and enhanced Universal Credit which will help too.”

“Our main aim for Paul in the future is that he keeps engaging with services, accessing the support available in the city, reducing his drug use, and making progress each day. The change we’ve all seen in him over the past year is huge, and that’s all down to him!”


As told to Alison Wise for Help us Help by Rachael Martin, Housing First support worker

March 2022