At Riverside, we’re not only committed to supporting people to move away from homelessness but working to prevent individuals from experiencing it in the first place.
This World Homeless Week, we’re sharing Simon’s story – how by receiving support earlier, he avoided becoming homeless at a time he was most at risk.
Simon’s problems began when he was a teen. To help cope with the tragic loss of his brother, he had turned to drugs.
It wasn’t long until the addiction had taken hold, and over the 30 years that followed, Simon’s battle with substance misuse continued. Unable to manage his own tenancy, Simon had stayed living at home with his mum.
That was until three years ago, when he was left facing the risk of becoming homeless after his mum moved into care, and where she later sadly passed away.
Engage Leeds is one of our floating support services, which is commissioned by Leeds City Council. The key aim of the service is to provide person-centred and tailored support to anyone over the age of 18 who is struggling with their housing and have support needs.
We work to prevent homelessness by addressing issues that could lead to this by giving advice, helping with mediation and signposting to relevant services. We also provide support to people to enable them to maintain a tenancy, mortgage or their current housing.
Following his mother’s death and loss of his childhood home, to support Simon to avoid experiencing homelessness, our team arranged temporary short-term accommodation before we helped him to find his own flat close to his family.
At first, he had struggled to manage his own tenancy and finances because of his drug use.
So the team referred him to adult social care and arranged for regular food parcels to be delivered to his home while he found his feet.
We also supported Simon to access funding for essential household items and liaised with the benefits office to ensure his payments were put back in place.
As Simon didn’t have access to the internet or an email address, we had supported him to attend the local One Stop Centre where we helped him to apply for Universal Credit, set up utility accounts and reconnect digitally.
Simon soon began to take steps to manage his long-standing addiction to illicit drugs, including by distancing himself from others he knew were substance users.
As months went on, Simon worked hard and got better at managing his finances with advice and support from our team. He started saving money to buy stuff from charity shops to furnish his property, and is now able to independently access and manage his benefits and utilities online.
He finally felt settled and like he had a place to call his own.
Compared to the man we met three years ago, Simon is much more confident in himself. When he first accessed our support, his mood was incredibly low and he was struggling with bereavement. He was often hard on himself and lacked self-confidence. At the time we had liaised with services to increase his support to see a mental health nurse, which has made a big difference to his wellbeing.
Simon no longer wears hats to cover his face, and instead stands tall and is proud of his achievements and who he is.
Simon continues to work hard to sustain his tenancy and reduce his drug use. He feels he has created a fresh start for himself, is enjoying having his own space and is positive about his future.
To find out more about Engage Leeds, to make a referral or to refer yourself, visit www.engageleeds.org.uk