What a difference a year makes! - 07/12/2021
Peter’s story, as told to Help us Help by Will McGahey, Housing Solutions Team Manager – Housing First, Sheffield City Council.
“Just a year ago, Peter was regularly rough sleeping. He spent last Christmas sleeping out in the city centre in the freezing weather. To be honest, Framework saw him out there most nights. His life was chaotic with heavy spice use. He’d bounced around temporary accommodation over the years, but nothing worked out and he always ended up back on the streets. He was accessing support from Framework and the Archer Project who were helping him out on a day to day basis, but life was a struggle.
It was over the Christmas and New Year period that we got to know Peter in the Housing First team, and started assessing whether he’d be a good fit for the programme. Housing First is a person-centred approach to supporting homeless people who have high needs and histories of entrenched homelessness, and especially rough sleeping.
Read our previous case study here: http://blog/housing-first-success
In March 2021, Peter was living in a hotel on the outskirts of the city, and I became his worker. Initially it was hard to build a relationship because his heavy drug use meant that he could forget we’d met before, but I kept meeting with him a few times each week, and we started to get to know each other.
I discovered that he loved reading, and poetry in particular, and started to help him with attending his GP appointments. At this point he was still using spice heavily, and had poor money management skills. His benefits were not fully in place, so he was always short of money.
Around May, Peter began his tenancy in Woodhouse, and got a very basic furniture package for his flat. We started going to charity shops to pick things up for his flat to make it more comfortable. St Vincents helped out, and his local food bank was brilliant. With the help of the Archer Project, who completed his initial assessment form, we got his benefits sorted with enhanced PIP, and he started to budget his money much better, which meant he could afford pictures, curtains and a coffee table from charity shops.
Initially, Peter had been sleeping on a mattress in his living room. We often see this with people who have slept rough as they are not used to having a bedroom to sleep in. Before long, he moved into his bedroom, and was getting more rest. We started cooking lessons, and Peter developed a passion for grocery shopping and cooking. He got on top of his bills, and made sure that his gas and electricity were always topped up.
In September, Peter started to access support from the HALT team, and has now hugely reduced his spice use. He’s reconnected with his Mum and has got his provisional driving licence and disabled bus pass sorted. This may not seem much, but to go from sleeping rough, to having sorted so many aspects of his life in just a few months is amazing!
Peter is now engaging with HAST around his mental health needs, which he’s never done before, and has a good relationship with Probation too. None of these things were happening last Christmas. I’m looking forward to what the next year brings for him!”
Alison Wise for Help us Help, December 2021