After leaving prison, Pete was living in and out of hostels and spent some time on the streets. Since receiving support from one of our Housing First services, he has found a place of his own and has won a Camden Adult Pathway Award for his progress. This is Pete’s story.
I first came into contact with St Mungo’s in 2010, when I got out of prison. I lost my council flat while I was in there and ended up in the hostel system. I found it very difficult. I knew I had to get out, one way or another.
Life was very depressing and I spent a couple of nights on the streets. It was cold and you’ve got no focus – I thought to myself, “Where do I go from here?” It was a big feeling of emptiness. I had lost touch, but I thought I didn’t need support – I just needed a flat.
Then all of a sudden, Housing First came along and I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I realised that I either live like this forever, in and out of hostels, or get my finger out and do something – so that’s what I did. I had a couple of interviews with them and they took me on. I found that by going with the programme and not fighting it, things started to happen.
Housing First is a part of St Mungo’s that helps people move on and progress with their lives. They’ve helped me with budgeting, paying bills, Universal Credit – things like that. Everything is digital these days and I don’t know my way around a computer that well.
Everything’s changed now. With all the council flats I’ve had in the past, I’ve paid all my bills but in a different way. The new Universal Credit is all online. I’ve been given help with the payments from Sarah, my support worker, who gets regular updates from them too. Without the support my life would be a big catastrophe.
The staff here care about every client equally and if I ever have a problem, they’re there. They don’t give up on you, even when you want to give up on yourself, they won’t let you. If I hadn’t have followed that path with their help and support, I don’t know where I’d be. They do a lot more than just finding a flat and moving you in. They go through your bills with you, they help you furnish it. They do everything they can.
I’m completely independent now. I say completely – they’re always there for me still. Finding my own place was fantastic. Coming from a prison and then a hostel, I never thought I’d get a council place ever again, especially the way everything was going, but through the support of these people I managed to get a flat.
I just can’t believe it. I’ve come right the way through, it’s amazing. Quite how they’ve managed it, I don’t know. I’ve had to show that I’m worthy of it, of course. They weren’t going to just give it to me if I didn’t deserve it. I’ve done a lot of hard work and it hasn’t been easy.
I’ve just won a Camden Adult Pathway Award for ‘Overall Male Achievement’ for my progress: my journey from the depression I was in up until how I am now. It felt pretty good to be nominated and nice that I won it!
I’m now looking forward to living a long and happy life, with a lot more involvement with family and old friends. I can hold my head up now. I’m lucky. I have a one bedroom flat with a garden. It’s my home. It’s not temporary. It’s all mainly down to Housing First.
The St Mungos’ Housing First approach helps people with a complex mix of health, housing and other issues to secure a tenancy first, alongside long term and flexible support.
Housing First originated in New York as an alternative to the emergency shelter provision that is the norm in the USA, the Housing First approach is based on helping people with complex mix of health, housing and other issues to secure a tenancy first, and then sustain it through long term and flexible package of support around them.
St Mungo’s has been at the forefront of designing, implementing and running Housing First projects in the UK. We’re one of the largest providers of Housing First services in England, currently supporting over 150 clients in eleven different locations. Our services are in Bournemouth, Brent, Brighton, Camden, Ealing, Essex, Haringey, Hammersmith and Fulham, Reading, Tower Hamlets and Westminster.
We are gathering and analysing evidence about how this model can work well for some people and we support the government’s intention to further pilot Housing First at larger scale as part of the pathway to help people of the streets.
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.