#StartsAtHome Day

Isaac talks about rebuilding his life after a long period of homelessness

Isaac* had a history of sleeping rough and had accessed accommodation across the Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury areas in the past. He was already well known to local mental health services, as he had been living with complex mental ill-health since the age of 20. He had been diagnosed with a schizoaffective disorder and needed regular two-weekly injections, as well as prescription medication. His condition meant he often experienced symptoms associated with schizophrenia, such as hallucinations and delusions, as well as mood disorders and periods of depression.

It was at this same age, around the time of his initial diagnosis that Isaac had also first become known to local support services, including P3’s own services in 2016.

Sleeping rough for several years had taken a huge toll on Isaac, his mental and physical health had continued to decline due to his lifestyle and substance misuse, and he had been evicted from every previous accommodation service over recent years. The complexities of his mental health and associated behaviours often being cited as the cause.

New beginnings

As we worked alongside Isaac he slowly began to open-up and share his anxieties. We listened as he talked with us about his circumstances and the full extent of his vulnerabilities became known to us. He shared about how he had often felt unsafe in the temporary accommodations provided and was seen as an ‘easy target’ for people to financially exploit. He was clear he no longer felt safe in the local area because of this – whether in housing or while sleeping rough. 

Isaac’s mental and general physical health were also in rapid decline, he wasn’t keeping up with his prescription injections or taking the medication needed to manage his mental ill-heath. Most worryingly Isaac didn’t understand the impact this was having and there was a very genuine concern from everyone involved in his support that another period of rough sleeping—with the risk of Covid-19—could potentially result in Isaac’s death. There really was no time to lose.

Moving into P3 Housing was a huge step for Isaac. It was clear from the outset that a long-term plan would be needed to aid his recovery, to ensure he received the right support to maintain his new home at Acorn House and to move forward with his life. We also knew it was going to take time to build his trust and wanted to ensure he felt safe to engage with the multiple agencies who would also need to be involved.

The first step was to provide Isaac with the protective wrap around support he needed to begin to prioritise his own personal wellbeing and by working together at his pace we have been able to begin the process of putting the pieces of his life back together.

Growing independence

Today, P3 staff work alongside Isaac daily to improve his mental and physical health, supporting him to take pride in his appearance and his new home, gradually building his independence as he learns to cook simple meals, clean his home and take the first steps to managing his own money, so he knows he is safe from financial exploitation.

Isaac has now re-engaged with outside agencies such as his GP, optician, dentist, mental health and addiction services. We have also begun to discuss longer-term housing options to support Isaac’s dual diagnosis and to ensure his ongoing wellbeing (crucially different to the facilities he has used in the past which didn’t work out). As every step is taken, Isaac is encouraged to consider what should come next and slowly with support he is beginning to build self-esteem, new positive friendships within Acorn House, explore volunteering opportunities and most significantly getting back in touch with family.

All of this has been achieved by a seamless, joined-up multi-agency approach. Isaac’s journey at Acorn House has required ongoing relationship building in a person-centred way focussing on understanding his unique needs, identifying any changes in behaviour and ensuring he receives the right support – which includes 16 hours of funded, bespoke weekly support.

Next steps

Isaac’s father, sisters and brother are now back in touch and Isaac’s confidence has benefitted from this first positive interaction with his family. He has started to open-up and talk about his childhood, exploring events from his past – identifying and making the connection between childhood incidents and some of his behaviours today. 

His reflections show a growing sense of self and are far removed from the man we first met who had no hopes or aspirations, and no belief that he could achieve any.

P3 Housing has given Isaac the opportunity to reassess his life and a voice to express his hopes for the future. Today Isaac has goals and he is motivated for his own recovery. This shift in his mindset means his aims are realistic, and he is starting to believe he can and will achieve them. He knows he still has a long journey ahead, but he remains optimistic and committed to his own recovery.

Isaac now talks about feeling safe at Acorn House and openly shares his dream to live independently one day in his own one-bedroom flat in the countryside. He talks about starting over, rebuilding meaningful relationships with the people he loves and in time perhaps finding a partner.

*Name changed for anonymity