As part of the National Housing Federation’s ‘Starts at Home’ campaign. We’re looking at how supported housing has made a real difference in our customers’ lives.
Here we speak to Sam, who spent some time as a resident at Cotswold House and Malvern House – two homes for young women in need of support.
This is her story:
“I was 17 years-old and homeless.
“I moved out of my mum’s house when I was 16. I come from a big family – so as you can imagine – there was a lot of noise. I have had difficulties with my mental health since I was young and have been diagnosed with Boarder line Personality Disorder and possible bipolar type 2.
“There were times in the past when I wouldn’t leave the house – my anxiety levels were that bad.
“For a while, I stayed at other people’s houses – first a close friend and then my boyfriend at the time. I lived with him for a year but it wasn’t a healthy relationship – he was abusive and took advantage of me financially. It wasn’t a pleasant experience and I knew I needed to get out.
“I was put in touch with Weaver Vale Housing Trust. I had an interview to see if it was the right environment for me and I started out at Cotswold House. My anxiety means I have trouble opening up to people and it was quite daunting living with a house full of women. Eventually I moved on to Malvern House, which allowed me to live independently with extra support available if I needed it. It gave me the security and safety I desperately needed at the time.
“I was there for eight months and it was a really positive experience for me. The support was brilliant, and I picked up a lot of essential life skills along the way. Eventually, with the help of Weaver Vale I was able to find my old place. I struggled a lot but I knew my support worker Diane was there to help me if I needed it.
“The thing about anxiety is that it never goes away and living on my own for the first time was hard and things started to get on top of me. I was struggling to survive on my income and ended up getting into a lot of debt as a result. I buried my head in the sand and my anxiety got the better of me. I had a complete breakdown at one of the Job Centre assessments and knew I needed help.
"I was then referred on to the Support and Wellbeing Team at WVHT, I was given my very own Support Worker Diane.
“Diane was there to help me. We worked together in applying for Employment Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payment (PIP). She was also there alongside me when I attended assessment meetings. Diane made me feel as ease and I don’t think I could have opened up to anybody else, I can’t thank her enough.
“You’re thrown into the real world once you leave education. Diane and Weaver Vale have given me the confidence to live on my own. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted.”
Diane Bond is Sam’s support worker, and has worked with her over the past 12 months
“Sam was really struggling to manage her first tenancy with WVHT. She has social phobia & anxiety issues which were having a massive impact. she wasn’t addressing her bills, she had rent arrears and a lot of debts which were starting to spiral out of control.
“I looked at her finances and soon realised that she wasn’t in receipt of all the correct benefits, I helped her to complete an ESA50/ PIP Application and supported her through the process. This was a massive thing for Sam to do especially attending the Medical Assessment in Crewe, she was trembling and shaking through the whole assessment.
“Luckily for Sam she is now receiving all the correct benefits and is managing her own finances without the constant worry of bailiffs knocking at her front door.”