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Starts at Home Day 2022

Rachel Reeves 2 September 2022

“Places like The Gables help you to do things right and settle and move on. If you haven’t had that support and move straight on, some people fall apart – it’s like being set up to fail.”
Natalie* knows what she’s talking about. Her life is complex and she is well aware of how difficult it can be for vulnerable people to maintain tenancies. That’s why she also knows the value of supported housing, like The Gables in Warwickshire where she currently lives. She has a safe place to stay, a room of her own (there are some communal facilities, like the kitchens) and, perhaps most importantly, people who care.
“I love it here,” Natalie continues. “I just love the whole atmosphere, love the staff. They do so much for me. They speak to me in a way that people haven’t spoken to me before, like I’m a human being. They get me to all my appointments – I’ve got a lot of illnesses – and they are just fantastic. I can’t thank them enough.”
As she speaks, Gables Manager Liz Price is liaising with the council on her behalf to maintain her residency there. (The council owns and maintains the building, while P3 provides the staffing and support.) She also tells of how other support staff have worked with her on various matters, such as getting a mobile phone.
“If I have a question, I can come to them,” says Calum*, another Gables resident. “Like if I need help with the bank or the council.
“I think the thing is that I have freedom. To come and go as I please. I don’t want to go anywhere else yet, I’m not ready, but I feel secure and safe here.”
And that is, of course, exactly the purpose of supported living. After being referred by the council, residents of the Gables receive the support they need so that they can eventually move on into independent accommodation, which might be a private tenancy or social housing. The support does not stop there, though. The Gables also runs Floating Support and Move On Support for people living independently, to assist them in maintaining their tenancies. 
“We don’t just look at accommodation,” says Liz. “We have a completely holistic approach to people’s lives. We support people with financing, claiming benefits, tenancies and managing accommodation, physical and mental health, education and training, offending, substance misuse…all the things that can help people to gain their independence.
“We aren’t specialists in everything but we work closely with the council and other organisations and we can link people with them to get the specialist support they need.  
“When the council refers someone here, they aren’t expected to move on for about nine months. We know it takes time and that’s fine. What’s really important is that people feel safe and welcome and wanted.
“We have waking night support – that is, staff who stay here at night, awake, in case someone needs them. A lot of people are very vulnerable at night; they might have trauma relating to it. So if they need support at night, even if it’s just someone to talk to or play some games with, we’re here.
“The people who work here are patient, resilient and dedicated. We really do care about the people we work alongside.”
It would be nice to talk further, but Natalie and Liz have to go. Natalie has a GP appointment and Liz has been assisting her with keeping time and is now going to take her there.
“I do feel that I’ll be able to move on,” Natalie adds, just before she and Liz leave.
“Places like the Gables can help people do that. If there were more people like there are here, things would be a lot better.”
Meanwhile, in Wolverhampton, Support Workers ensure that people have the right support for their individual needs.
“I was on the streets for a year, but I phoned P3 and that night I was in a hostel,” recalls Michael.
“I was surprised at just how nice it was; I was expecting dormitories but I had my own bedroom.
“Now I’m in a shared flat and I’m very happy here. I don’t always feel great about life but I’ve got safe accommodation and support.”
*Names have been changed.

Photo by Avi Naim on Unsplash