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My Journey

My understanding and opinions on homelessness have changed so much in the last six months, and I believe my experience has strengthened me as a person, and a lot of that I owe to the caring and dedicated staff at Turning Tides.

Hi, my name is Alex. And I have been asked to write a small piece, about my journey from becoming homeless, to securing my own tenancy for a flat that I will be moving into in a few days. This is my story.

At 39 years old I thought I was relatively secure at work and at home, until I found myself jobless, and facing a relationship breakdown simultaneously. So with no money, no work and no home, the future was looking pretty grim. After looking online and calling the local council, I was put in touch with Turning Tides. (St Claire’s Day Centre)

After attending the day centre for a few days, I was offered an interview with the hostel manager, Mel, which I accepted, but was apprehensive about, as I had a very blinkered view at that time, on what homelessness really meant. At the interview I had a long chat with Mel, she explained what Turning Tides does, what they expect of the clients and what help they can give us, she also put my mind at rest on the few issues, I had concerns about. Mel told me that spaces were available, but should I think about it for a couple of days. Two days later, and after my personal situation worsened, I was back at the day centre, and I accepted a place at STAH. (Short Term Assessment Hostel) I moved in that day, and this ensured I spent no time street homeless, a situation I will be forever grateful, I avoided.

On my arrival at STAH, I was booked in, this involved a risk assessment, a guided tour, and a rundown of the rules of the house ,I was given a room, with a clean bed and bedding and was given a couple of days to settle in, before meeting my key worker, although there was always staff around if I had any questions or problems.

After a few days I met my allocated key worker, Kay, we sat down and had a long chat, about what went wrong in my life, and came up with a support plan to get me back on track, my personal plan was quite straightforward, as I had no addiction problems or mental health issues, but after getting to know others in the project that do, I can see the massive difference Turning Tides makes, with getting them help and support they need. My target issues were more about work and money, so firstly we set a savings plan in motion, a plan that I have religiously stuck to, as Lisa instilled in me the importance of saving to help get me out of the situation I had found myself in, I have found it really hard at times to save while on jobseekers allowance, but looking back now the sacrifices I have had to make have been worth it.

We also had to tackle getting me some form of work, as I have always worked, we felt it would be detrimental to my overall wellbeing if I was to be idle for too long. So even though I was looking for paid work, I set about volunteering for Turning Tides as a van driver collecting donations for the shops. It was then I met Julia at the Durrington shop which also doubles as a bicycle recycling project. I asked her if there was any chance I could become a bicycle maintenance technician, for the project. We had a chat, and I started a couple of weeks later.

During my first few weeks at STAH, I had seen a poster on the notice board, asking if anyone would like to go along to the day centre, one afternoon per week, to receive lessons, on the guitar or ukulele. I thought to myself this would be a great way to fill my time, so I went along, little did I know how much fun it would be. I am currently learning to play the Ukulele, to read music, and set up a PA system, and hope in the future to learn how to record music.

After staying at STAH for a few weeks I was offered a chance to move to SSP (Stepping Stones Project) as I had followed all my guidance from Lisa, kept all my appointment and shown Jacqui and Lisa, I could be trusted at SSP, as this project has a more relaxed program, and is for people that have come through STAH, and are deemed to be making progress towards independent living.

I continued to see Kay on a regular basis, updating my support plan, and she would also tell me of any schemes that are running to help me improve my situation, it was at one of my key working sessions that Lisa informed me of the rent deposit scheme run by the council, to help people like myself to get into private rented accommodation, so I made an appointment to see the Housing Officer from the local council, and after filling out the forms and waiting a couple of weeks I was accepted for the scheme.

Two months, later while I was having a chat with the deputy hostel manager I received a call from the council, informing me that they have a landlord that was willing to accept a tenant, on the rent deposit scheme, and would I would like to have a look at the property, which I did the next day. I told the landlord there and then that I would take it. I called the council back straight away and informed them of my decision. As I am writing this I am waiting for a call from the council to finalise paperwork and to receive the keys.

Turning Tides has continued to help me, after I told them I will be moving out of the project, by helping with filling out forms, and I have also been able to purchase items, through their move on scheme, which will help me make a success of moving to my own property. They are also sending me off with a basic food parcel to help me get started in my new home. I have also been assured that if I should need any help or advice, in anyway in the future that I should not hesitate to contact them.

Going forward I hope to continue with my music, and my work for Turning Tides. In the future I may also look into getting involved, with client care for the homeless in some way, whether it is with Turning Tides or another homeless organisation.

My understanding and opinions on homelessness have changed so much in the last six months, and I believe my experience has strengthened me as a person, and a lot of that I owe to the caring and dedicated staff at Turning Tides.