Kelly works as a waitress at a popular family restaurant chain. She has a son Josh, aged nine. After a year in insecure emergency accommodation, they are now in a home managed through our Real Lettings service. This is their story.
I found out I was losing my home when there were bailiffs at my door, telling me the landlord had stopped paying his mortgage. It was no fault of my own but I still had to go to court before the council could move us into temporary accommodation.
The temporary accommodation was literally just a room. We had a little kitchen and bathroom, but it wasn’t a very nice place to be. Josh didn’t have his own space and neither did I. It made life really hard.
Josh has autism, which means he can go into meltdowns because of sensory overload – this could be a sound that is too loud for him or too high pitched, or just too many noises. The temporary accommodation was in the middle of a busy town so there was lots of noise and too little space. My son couldn’t calm himself down when he went into meltdown mode as he had nowhere to escape.
Sometimes he would become scared because of the other people who were living there; he was constantly hearing shouting and banging. He didn’t feel safe there. We were living there for just over a year.
We first had contact with St Mungo’s Real Lettings service in February 2018. We got a phone call to say we had a viewing. It was amazing. It wasn’t in a busy town; it was on a quiet road, which makes it easier for my son. He even has his own room again.
It’s hard to explain how much difference it’s made. While we were in temporary accommodation, every day he would come home from school with a bad report – that he had kicked off or had done something bad.
Since we’ve been here, there’s been pretty much nothing, maybe just one bad day at school over the last year. He’s back to being the normal little boy he is. Rather than focussing on his autism, because he was having so many meltdowns, now we can focus on him.
Having his own room means he can block everything out. He can block judgement out – it’s his own little space that isn’t anybody else’s – it’s his. It helps him self-regulate too because he can go off into his room and calm himself down. It’s made everything easier. Now I can go out and people can come round to look after Josh. We weren’t allowed to have people stay at the temporary accommodation.
It was a massive relief having people to let me know that I wasn’t at a dead end and that there was a way out. Christine, from Real Lettings, has always tried to help me, even with things outside of the flat. She offers a lot of emotional support and whatever other help she can within her role. It’s nice to know that someone’s not in it for the job, and they’re actually in it for the people.
Josh and I like to go out quite a lot because we have learning passes. We go up to London and go to all the bits along the Embankment and then up to Leicester Square. We’re hoping to go away for two weeks at the end of the year for Josh’s 10th birthday, which wouldn’t have been possible before. In the temporary accommodation, if we went away for more than a couple of days, we would have lost our place to stay.
In the future I want to own a house that no one can take from us. Everything else can fall in after that, and I want Josh to be happy in whatever he chooses to do.
A lack of affordable accommodation poses huge problems for people who are vulnerably housed, homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Our social lettings agency, Real Lettings, guarantees the rent and takes on the management and maintenance of properties while making sure people are well settled in a secure environment. Our work with Real Lettings achieves cost effective and sustainable tenancies which prepare people for independent living.
Real Lettings was set up in 2008. Working with Resonance, St Mungo’s runs the innovative Real Lettings Property Fund (RLPF). The RLPF buys flats in areas where people really need homes, then staff bring them up to a high standard, for tenants to move in for two to three years.
In a recent survey of our clients who live in Real Lettings properties, 87% of tenants said their property had had a positive impact on their support networks and relationships.
Our 50 year history is filled with some extraordinary people. To mark our anniversary, we will be profiling 50 Lives throughout 2019 – a snapshot of those who have played their part in our story. You can read the stories on our website at www.mungos.org/50-lives.