2019 January 30 by Verity Jones
During 22 years of drug and alcohol addiction Keith spent his life trapped between sleeping rough on the streets and prison. Hit by a family breakdown and the death of his daughter, his road to recovery was tough. But with the help of local homeless and addiction recovery charities, today Keith is four years clean and in full time employment. Working as an outreach worker at Julian House, he now uses his own experiences daily to help those around him.
That’s not all. This year he’s also taking part in Julian House’s Big Bath Sleep-Out 2019. He’s determined to help raise much needed funds for the charity and to raise awareness about the complexity of homelessness.
Since the age of 15, Keith was in and out of prison. Growing up on a one of the toughest council estates in Bristol, he saw his descent into crime, alcohol and drugs as inevitable. People close to him became a victim of his addition. At points, his family were forced to call the police and even take out a restraining order. For years he was completely absorbed by a life of crime and drugs.
But with the help of St. Mungo’s in Bristol, Keith was moved into a Dry House where he was able to detox and for 17 months he remained clean. But after his partner lost their unborn daughter he relapsed, and the vicious cycle began again.
A year later he returned to recovery. Keith says that he finally acknowledged that it wouldn’t be the drugs that killed him but his pride, guilt and shame.
“I’ve now been clean for four years, since the 20th December 2014,” Keith says proudly. It’s a date that never leaves you.
Eager to give back, Keith began volunteering and working at St. Mungo’s during his time in recovery. Keen to work outside of Bristol, he was then offered a job at Julian House in December 2017, and now works as a full-time outreach worker in Bath. Since joining the charity, he’s used his own experiences to help and support many people in a situation like his own.
“It’s about taking responsibility for my own actions. I joined Julian House to make amends.”
If that wasn’t enough, this year, Keith has decided to join his colleagues to take part in Julian House’s Big Bath Sleep-Out 2019. Happening on 8 March, the annual event consists of participants being sponsored to sleep out for one night in Alice Park.
Everything raised goes towards helping people, like Keith, transform their lives.
Organiser Cathy Adcock explains the idea around the event: “Of course no-one is under any illusion that spending one cold night in Alice Park could possibly come close to the stark reality of being homeless and sleeping on the streets.
But taking part in the Sleep-Out gives members of the public the chance to empathise with those who are forced to sleep on the streets as well as raising much needed awareness
about a big problem right on our doorstep. The sponsorship they raise will also provide much needed income to help and support homeless men and women in Bath and the underlying issues which drive men and women into this desperate situation.”
The event is popular with people of all ages. Families, groups from schools, churches, the community and corporates have all signed up to make a difference. Julian House is now calling on you to join them on the 8 March.
Pre-registration is essential, and all details can be found here, by emailing Jessica Gay on firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 07939055432.
Registration forms are also available from Julian House charity shops in Walcot St and Shaftesbury Road as well as Alice Park café.
2018 December 20 by Verity Jones
Barney was sleeping rough in West Dorset for 2 years and drinking heavily for much of this time. The outreach team in Dorset got to know him over this period and were able to build up some trust – Barney has had extremely traumatic incidents in his life and finds it difficult to put his scepticism to one side.
In March 2017 he moved into local authority temporary accommodation with the support of the outreach team and they have continued to go beyond their remit to provide support. Barney finds dealing with the ‘system’ – be that the local authority or DWP (department for work and pensions) – extremely stressful and starts to entertain thoughts of going back to his tent when he feels he can’t cope. When he is relaxed and happy, Barney has an incredibly extensive repertoire of slightly bad taste (and some very bad taste) jokes which he can deliver in the manner of a stand up routine – or just off the cuff to embarrass the team.
Barney relayed his own story through his outreach worker: “I was sleeping in a tent in Bridport for 2 years after splitting up with my wife. I was using alcohol to make life bearable on the street. It also helped me deal with losing my two sons – one in childhood and the other tortured and murdered as an adult. I finally realised that I didn’t want to drink anymore and managed to quit whilst still rough sleeping.
I became ill with bell’s palsy and went for respite at Pilsdon Manor. The Pilsdon Community helped me back on my feet, but I returned to the tent. The outreach team would come out first thing in the morning with coffee, they set up an assessment with the Housing Team at the local council and drove me over there. I was placed in temporary accommodation in Dorchester. I was referred to another organisation for support but didn’t build up the trust I had with the outreach team, so they continued to support me into my long term accommodation in sheltered housing. I wish I could say it has all been plain sailing, but I had to go on to Universal Credit when I moved and problems with that have caused me massive amounts of stress. On the plus side, I have been able to set up aquariums in my flat and I am a keen fisherman.
2018 December 10 by Verity Jones
After nearly 30 years of drug abuse Phil turned his life around – now he has a full-time job at Julian House and says every day is a reminder of how far he’s come.
“My parents divorced when I was 13. I started hanging out with the wrong crowd, drinking and smoking dope. Before I knew it, things got out of control and I’d moved on to heroin and crack cocaine.”
The first of Phil’s three sons was born when he was just 19. “I was barely more than a child myself. I lived a double life for years; holding down jobs as a painter/decorator to support my family – in between spells in prison for burglary, theft, fighting and dealing to support my drug habit.”
In 2012 Phil was locked up for another four years – and he finally decided enough’s enough. “I was sick of going to prison. Sick of being estranged from everyone I cared about.” Especially his boys who he’d not seen for years. “So I enrolled in a drug free wing. It was easy to stay clean in prison – but I knew the test would come when I was back on the street.”
And that’s when Julian House stepped in; Phil applied to See Change – one of our addiction recovery houses. “I thought I’d give myself a fighting chance, and I haven’t looked back. See Change is a safe environment – from 1-2-1 counselling sessions, to peer support groups, a dedicated keyworker to encouragement on tap – I can’t blow their trumpet enough.”
After a few months Phil started volunteering, which turned into a part time position with a local social enterprise. “I wanted to get back on my feet – buy a car so I could start rebuilding my relationship with my family in Cambridge.” And when Julian House offered him a full-time position as a maintenance man he jumped at the chance.
“I really like the ethos of working for a charity, and the variety of what I do on a day to day basis; One week I can be fitting a new kitchen, gardening the next. But the best thing about my position at Julian House is the reminder of the life I don’t want to go back to.”
Until six years ago Phil hadn’t lived more than three consecutive days as an adult man without substance misuse. “Drugs cuddled me when I was down, and celebrated with me when I was up. I thought I couldn’t cope without them. What I didn’t realise back then is that I was just existing…. today I live.”
Phil admits he has lots of regrets, but after years of not feeling at home in his six-foot skin he’s finally happy. “I just take it one day at a time, talk to people rather than trying to undo all the knots myself, and don’t look for escapism anymore. I’m grateful for everything I have – job, house, car, partner, kids, grandkids.”
“And now when people ask me to tell them about myself, I’m not Phil the ex-criminal, or Phil or ex-drug addict anymore – I’m just Phil.
2018 December 6 by Verity Jones
Before we met Ben he was living with his mother but unfortunately their relationship broke down due to his mental health issues and behaviour. He was diagnosed with Rage Disorder after becoming verbally aggressive and breaking objects in her home. The police had been called after incidents leading to him receiving a restraining order and having to attend probation. He could not live at the family home and became homeless.
Ben sofa surfed with friends and family, and even stayed with his mother against the restraining order which put him at risk of prosecution, until his options ran out. He got in contact with his father which led him to leaving his county and moving to Exeter. However, he had no options of having a safe place to stay and was at serious risk of becoming street homeless. Ben had started to become low of mood and was concerned his behaviour would become problematic.
After completing a risk assessment of Ben, we placed him with experienced hosts where he behaved and interacted with hosts well. Hosts stated they did not experience any of the diagnosis given to Ben as he was polite and conscientious. The feedback was important as it meant hosts with less experience and unsure about higher risk issues could host him, giving him more options of different hosts to stay with.
As time went on, we helped Ben apply for different supported accommodation but also had concerns about his mental health issues. Nightstop was able to give him a reference and show the diagnosis was in the context of his mother’s home. Before he could be accepted, his girlfriend from his original county came to Exeter and asked to stay with Nightstop. However, she was too high risk to stay with hosts and Ben choose to stay in a tent with her as felt he needed to look after her.
Ben continued to engage with Nightstop staff and he could still stay with hosts in supported accommodation but chose to stay in the tent with his girlfriend.
He turned up one morning with cuts and bruises after being bitten and hit with a hammer after an argument with his girlfriend. We were able to place him with a host that night and support him to engage with the police whist charges were being pressed. Ben was extremely vulnerable with hosts able to provide emotional support and appropriate advice.
Ben eventually moved into temporary accommodation provided by the council. However, this only lasted until the threat of violence ended, his ex-girlfriend left the area, and Ben sofa surfed with a friend until he came back to Nightstop.
He applied to move into the supported housing and was accepted, Ben has lived in the flat since July 18 and engaged with staff well. He has completed the Outcome Star, a coaching tool that helps young people recognise issues in a structured method. He has applied for a music production course and wants to start his old hobbies again. Also, Ben has supported Nightstop at promotional events and he stated could never have been able to talk to people he did not know and felt staying with people he did not know helped his confidence.
Find out more about Nightstop here.
2018 November 26 by Verity Jones
The following was written by a client from one of our supported housing projects.
My whole life has been based around alcohol, drugs and violence, I never knew what emotions were like or experienced any in my drinking days. I knew if I carried on living like this, I would end up in prison or dead, prison got to me first.
Going to prison was the start to changing my life and making me the man I am today. While my time in prison was horrible not knowing when my cell door would open and when it did, was it a prison officer or another prisoner come to beat me up. I decided to look for opportunities to better myself. I completed all the courses I could and became a classroom helper in the health and wellbeing course, Naomi the teacher taught me that it’s OK to talk about things rather than let them overload your mind with bad thoughts. I also completed all the alcohol and drug groups which taught me to relax without having to use alcohol and the best way of dealing with situations and emotions.
When I was released from prison, I moved into a Julian house project which is a dry house, I was nervous to start with, then I met Sarah my key worker and felt at ease. Sarah is always there to listen to you and help you with any situations. Julian house has kept me sober, I still think about alcohol but knowing I am in a dry house helps to keep me sober. My target every day is not to drink.
I now have a loving partner, stepdaughter, daughter and granddaughter who are in my life, I know I am not alone, I can jump on a bus to see my family when I like which is a good feeling. My thinking is changing to how I see my life in the future.
I use my time wisely and like to keep myself busy. There is a gym in the dry house that I can use 24/7. I have decorated rooms in the house and have been keeping the garden and house clean and tidy.
My main targets are setting goals to better myself, I am volunteering at the Julian house bike workshop which I love and have met some good friends there. I have also completed a first aid course with Julian house and met some of the other residents from other houses while at the course who were friendly.
I have realised in the past I made every day hard work and thought things were impossible to change. Now I write a daily plan, set achievable goals. I’ve learnt how to compromise so everyone is happy, I find a balance in every situation an example of this is the windows in the house, when I was in prison, I was in a box 8ft by 10ft with no option to open a window I didn’t realise how good fresh air feels until it was taken away, I would like the window always open but know that others in the house don’t, I compromised using times when and when not, to have them open while I am living in a shared house.
Thank you to everybody that has helped me to come this far, I will continue to make my daily plans and set achievable goals.
2018 November 15 by Verity Jones
Darren came to Exeter from Newton Abbot at the end 2015. When the team first encountered him on the streets they offered him the chance to return to Newton Abbot but he declined because he was fleeing drug debts.
From that moment onwards he engaged minimally with the team and rarely accepted a hot drink on morning outreach.
He was allocated a support worker who tried to engage with Darren to do a housing assessment form, but had no luck because Darren was always begging to fund an expensive heroin addiction. His worker asked Darren what he wanted, which turned out to be getting on a methadone script, not housing. They made a referral to RISE, a drug and alcohol support service, but Darren was still using heavily so was busy begging at the time of his appointments, which he missed.
His support worker, Matt, felt like he was getting nowhere with Darren but encouraged him to re-refer himself to RISE. Again, Darren missed several appointments but finally made it to one despite suffering from heroin withdrawal. He continued to keep his appointments with his RISE worker and saw a GP from a local Surgery – the first time he had accessed healthcare in over a year.
Once Darren was managing his heroin addiction, Matt accompanied him to Exeter City Council to make a homeless application. He was found non-priority but Matt rang the Housing Advice team every day for a week until there was a vacancy for him to be housed.
This was the first time Darren had accessed housing for almost two years. It took him a while to engage with his new support worker but he stayed on top of paying his rent with little prompting. Now that he was feeling more settled, he had time to meet Matt and play pool on several occasions.
2018 October 16 by Verity Jones
In May this year the Dorset homeless outreach team met Dave, he was sleeping in a tent on Chesil beach and living off whatever he managed to fish. Supported by Julian House, Wise Ability and The Lantern, Dave has found himself in rented accommodation, and has just started up-cycling second hand furniture.
He creates beautiful, individual pieces to a very high standard and has managed to find space to use as a workshop. Over the next few months he hopes to turn his talent into a business and sell his bespoke furniture to the public.
2018 August 20 by Verity Jones
We love seeing the successes of our clients when they start to turn their lives around.
This is one of our Bristol recovery clients, for years he worked Covent Garden until he fell into addiction. He’s now running workshops at the PRSC (Peoples republic of Stokes Croft) in Bristol and enjoying performing his Punch and Judy shows again!
2018 April 19 by Verity Jones
Our Supported Housing services work to not only provide accommodation, but also to support clients in all elements of their lives to help them gain confidence and skills to move on positively and independently.
Recently the Somerset Positive Lives Service worked with a client who wouldn’t leave the house, wash or cook for himself, and felt suicidal on a daily basis. With learning difficulties and limited mobility, he felt unable to progress with his life.
Through determination and close partnership working, however, the client has improved significantly. His plans for this week, for example, include spending a day with his mentor, attending an appointment at MIND (part of a 6 week treatment plan he now has in place), visiting the opticians, catching the bus for a day trip to Wells and cooking himself a roast at the weekend. This is a really positive change for him towards a successful move-on in the future.
These positive steps in his life have also empowered him to feel confidant enough to make other changes; some as small as being able to have a conversation with an elderly lady on a bus, and feeling so positive that he was able to speak to a stranger.
Other bigger steps include feeling able to attend an interview to start volunteering at a Breakfast Club.
Supported housing services provide people with accommodation and this often then empowers them to start making changes in other areas of their lives.
2018 April 18 by Verity Jones
Our Somerset Positive Lives Accommodation Service have recently been supporting a client who was keen to return to work; the only thing holding him back was a lack of a driving licence.
Our volunteer and peer mentor was able to find a grant from the Somerset Association for the Care and Rehabilitation of Offenders ‘SACRO’ that could support this. We applied for £300 to support the client to take lessons; the grant was to cover both his theory and practical test and a licence in the event he passed.
Well he put his heart and soul into this; he sat his theory test within a week of receiving the grant- and passed. He then took 2 driving lessons and was able to pass his practical test first time!
His driving licence allowed him to secure full time work with a vehicle as part of the employment, with this new found freedom he then felt more able to move onto independent accommodation. He continues to thrive in his new job and accomodation and to date has not re-offended for 4 months, which is a first for 12 years.
The staff working with this client also noted an improvement in his ability to listen and work ‘around’ what he considered were unfair restrictions imposed by other agencies and he certainly seemed to learn to react in a more constructive manner.
2017 January 19 by Matthew Roberts
Phil, 45 years old. Previously a St Vincent’s resident, he is now full time Gardening Team Leader at Aspire.
“Before St Vincent’s I was languishing in a cycle of drink, drugs, crime, prison and my life was pretty much going nowhere.”
“I came to St Vincent’s because I was serving a prison sentence and I had to do something different with my life.”
“A few of the people I was associated with in prison had come to St Vincent’s and championed the cause and so in pursuit of the new life I craved I guess it was a logical choice.”
“I’d worked large parts of my life but a lot of those jobs had fell by the wayside because of my substance misuse and then the 5 years before my latest prison sentence, the one before I came to St Vincent’s, it was a case of I didn’t really want to work and I was happy in my oblivion. I didn’t think that I was worthy of anything more than I had become so I didn’t even try to get work.”
“Realistically if I hadn’t got a place in any 2nd stage dry house, maybe I’d still be taking drugs, committing crime, going to prison, possibly dead, that’s as black and white as it was quite honestly.”
“Aspire, because they come under the umbrella of a social enterprise they are much more understanding of the issues associated with coming out the other side of substance misuse, for instance I’ve had quite a few hospital appointments and illnesses of late and they haven’t been anything other than supportive. I think it’s amazingly encouraging for me.”
“What I’m learning more than anything at Aspire first and foremost is working with other people and leading other people. Some of the people there don’t have as much on hand experience as I have, so it’s kind of nice to teach and help other people.”
“My immediate goals are to find my own place and then work full time for Aspire, because I like the job, I like the people and the ethos of the company.”
“To anyone thinking about St Vincent’s, it has helped my immeasurably in turning what was a pretty bleak outlook for my life into something which today I have genuine aspirations and hope for the future.”
“Aspire do great things for people that wouldn’t otherwise necessarily have got a chance. I would absolutely champion the cause of both.”
2016 September 8 by Matthew Roberts
Volunteering is a great way to help to make life better for homeless and vulnerable people in your local community. You also get to meet people, learn new skills & expand your horizons.
Jacqui, one of our volunteers, spoke to us and gave her top 10 reasons why she loves giving some of her time:
- I always come away with a smile on my face
- The events are great fun and very well organised
- There’s always a fantastic atmosphere on the day
- I know I’m supporting an extremely worthy cause
- The roles on the day are really varied so there’s something for everyone
- I know my time is appreciated whether I can offer 1 hour or 5 hours
- I get to meet lots of new people
- I see the commitment from the staff and other volunteers to help vulnerable people firsthand
- I have a birds eye view of some wonderful activities and events that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen
- I’ve learnt that homelessness can happen to anyone and through the support of Julian House many vulnerable people are given the guidance and support to get their lives back on track.
2016 August 23 by Matthew Roberts
Motivated by wanting to be the best mum she could, Mary moved into Julian House in 2014 to get specialist help to overcome her addiction to alcohol and rebuilt a life for herself and her son. “My son is staying with his dad while I’m at Julian House and I know I am in the right place to get the help I need.
I look forward to us spending normal quality time together, like helping him with his homework, eating pancakes for breakfast like we used to, watching The Simpsons or Dr Who, seeing him asleep, him telling me about cadet camp face to face, and dare he broach it those difficult things called girls.
I’m building trust with him again…I’ve been sober 14 months and he knows I am, and that I’m working hard for us to be a family again”
Mary left Julian House in having benefited from key working, counselling and specialist help to address her problematic drinking. She left us confident she could rebuild her life, and the life that she and her son wanted together.
2016 August 23 by Matthew Roberts
I came to Julian House after three months in treatment. I’d heard about the support Julian House provides through others that had left treatment and had done well with their recovery and I was accepted in August.
The staff at Julian House offer lots of support, I know I can call the support workers whenever I need them and they will be there for me.
I heard about the Julian House Bike Workshop while I was doing my initial 12 week treatment programme, so once I finished this my 12 week programme my support worker suggested work experience to me.
I started volunteering in February doing 1 day a week. After a month I increased this to 2 days a week, and I am now considering extending this to 3 days.
I find volunteering there really therapeutic as well as learning a lot about cycle maintenance. Having a ‘rust bucket’, refurbishing and selling it is so satisfying.
Quite often I finish working on a bike and it goes up for sale and the next time I come back in, it’s sold. I know that that has been down to me and the money goes back to the charity- it’s great job satisfaction.
The project is helping me with my recovery and I’m learning transferrable skills. The people are good for me to be around and I’m getting great work experience.
There was a time I was agoraphobic because of my addiction. I was too afraid to leave the house and go outside. I’m now really enjoying the project and highly recommend the Bike Workshop, it’s helping me to get my confidence back and rejoin the community.
2016 August 23 by Matthew Roberts
I’d worked large parts of my life but a lot of those jobs had fell by the wayside because of my substance misuse, it became a case of I didn’t really want to work and I was living in my oblivion. I didn’t think I was worthy of anything more than I had become so I didn’t even try to get work.
Realistically if I hadn’t got a place in Julian House, maybe I’d still be taking drugs, possibly dead, that’s as black and white as it was quite honestly.
Now I’m working in one of the Julian House social enterprises, they are much more understanding of the issues associated with coming out the other side of substance misuse.
I worked on my own for several years, self employed so I’m getting used to working with other people, leading other people somewhat because some of the people there don’t have as much on hand experience as I have. So it’s kind of nice to teach and help other people.
My immediate goals are to find my own place and then work full time for Julian House, because I like the job, I like the people and the ethos of the company.
Julian House has helped my immeasurably in turning what was a pretty bleak outlook for my life into something which today I have genuine aspirations and hope for the future. Julian House do great things for people like me who wouldn’t otherwise necessarily have got a chance.”
2016 August 23 by Matthew Roberts
Daniel is 41. He left his home city of London 3 years ago and came to Bath with his girlfriend and their dog. Away from the fast-paced city, they looked forward to finding a more relaxed lifestyle.
Finding work in Bath proved to be difficult and Daniel took to labouring on building sites. Whilst this work looked promising, it turned out to be irregular and short-term. This situation added to other relationship tensions, which continued to mount until he broke up with his girlfriend.
The break up involved Daniel moving out of the home that the couple shared. As a short-term solution, he moved in with an acquaintance, sleeping on his sofa. The place was unclean and unstable: Alcohol often caused his host to become aggressive.
Suffering from these set-backs and running out of options, Daniel started drinking more and sleeping rough to get away from the anti-social behaviour.
Looking back, Daniel said ‘I was beginning to wallow in self-pity. This feeling only got worse and worse when I drank. I thought, “What’s happening to me?”’
Needing to find a safe place where he could get himself together, Daniel visited Julian House’s Hostel in Bath and was soon able to move into one of the private ‘pods’. This was a big step taking control of his situation, but there were still risks.
With reinforcement from Julian House staff, Daniel began to take more pride in himself. He came to see his experiences as a run of bad luck that almost spiralled out of control. He says, ‘If the hostel wasn’t there, I would have been stuffed.’
Daniel is now living at one of our supported accommodation projects, and loving the return to the normality of cooking and household chores.
‘I don’t want to give up. I want to help people and make a difference. The experience has opened my eyes to how helpful support work is, so in the next year, my ambition is to get into this line of work.’
He is a caring and aspirational guy who came on hard times, but found the help he needed to stay on his feet.
2015 September 16 by Matthew Roberts
Over the past few months the Gypsy Traveller & Boater Outreach team, Connie and Sam, have made some good progress working with one of their contacts, N.
N is a long-term heroin user and domestic abuse survivor, suffering from high anxiety levels and depression. She struggles to navigate the housing benefit system, resulting in mounting arrears to Elim Housing. Over the last few months our staff, Connie and Sam have gained N’s trust enough to have an honest conversation about her history of abuse and her ongoing drug-use, something she was previously reluctant to do. N has agreed to consider support with her addiction and feels ready to access the Freedom Programme where she will be supported through attendance at those critical first appointments. Support was also given with housing benefit and Elim Housing where a problem was found and solved preventing N’s tenancy being at risk.
Health is a vital issue that Sam and Connie work with. For N it was possible, with support, to move from unplanned regular emergency visits to A&E to planned visits to a GP surgery where she is now signed up. A subtle but powerful sign of change is getting contact again from her sister, a relationship which had strayed. She has made an incredible transition from existing in almost complete isolation with no functioning support network, to living in a supportive community, being in-touch with her family and making plans for her future. N told Connie and Sam that without the positive changes they supported her in making over the last few months she would never have expected to see her family again, and has since been much happier.
2015 July 22 by Matthew Roberts
It’s easy to imagine it could never happen to you, but if the rug was pulled out from under you, would you be able to find the support you need?
When Dave was made redundant from his factory job at the age of 50, his life changed suddenly. The redundancy payment didn’t last long, and when he was offered a chance to work, it seemed like a step in the right direction.
“A guy came up to me in the street in Bath and offered me work for £20 a day plus room and board, and I was desperate enough to take it. It was mainly tarmacing and concreting, and that was ok if you had the work, but other days we’d have to go round door knocking in all kinds of weather.”
He was treated well by the family he was with, but not everyone was so friendly.
“The younger lads treated us worse than dogs sometimes, throwing down litter in the street and expecting us to pick it up. They weren’t violent as such, but they did things like throwing fireworks through my window. They threatened that if I ever left they would find me and beat me.”
Dave went to Bath police station to report the threats, but after 13 months living with his employer he had nowhere to stay. The police put him in contact with Julian House.
He had to stay in Bath for 6 months before he could get fully into the system, but the Julian house staff made sure he wasn’t on the streets. At first they gave him a bed in the Manvers street night shelter, and then, once he had been assessed, they moved him into one of their local properties.
“They could see I was low risk so they moved me through the system quite quickly. I was given a key worker who I’ve still got now, and I go back to the night shelter once a week to volunteer in the kitchen.
Dave feels that his contact with the charity has had a positive impact on his life, and certainly he has been empowered to do things he would never have otherwise tried. He’s been involved with lots of different projects, and the skills he has gained have opened up a wide range of employment opportunities.
“I belong to 50 Strong, a project that runs meaningful activities. Through them I’ve done lots of courses – food hygiene, IT, resilience, and they put me through my DBS check which means I can work with disabled people. I also work front of house at one of their social enterprises, Julian House Bike Workshop, so I’ve got experience of dealing with customers. I’d only ever done factory work before.”
In the future, Dave hopes he will be able to work with marginalised or vulnerable people himself. He would like to put something back into the system that gave him so much support.
“I’m a caring person and I try to help people who have got issues. I’d like to work for the charity, but it would be hard as I’m still in the system. Maybe I’ll do a similar job somewhere else one day though. I’m hoping it will all fall into place.”
Even though he went through some difficult times, Dave says that he wouldn’t change what happened.
“It’s also made me realise how close everyone is to being homeless, so I’ve learned not to judge people just because I see them on the street. Everyone’s got their own strengths and everyone goes through their own stuff. We’ve all got issues.”
“I’m starting life afresh really, that sums it up. It’s given me a new outlook and a new start.”
2014 September 12 by Matthew Roberts
The Supported Housing team at Julian House recently achieved a great result after 18 months supporting one of their service users at Peter House. It’s a perfect example of how Julian House works closely with it partners to support its service users and the credit goes to everyone who’s been involved with this case.
Guy was referred to Julian House through the criminal justice system. He was heavily involved in drug use and had a history of drug-related crime; stealing to feed his habit.
Suffering from anxiety and poor self-esteem, Guy didn’t immediately engage with the support services. His drug use continued because he did have the motivation to quit.
To their credit, this didn’t daunt the staff at Peter House and they continued to provide him with the best support that they could. By working closely with drug misuse agencies and continuing to engage with Guy, they started to make some ground. After 12 months with the supported housing team, Guy began engaging with Meaningful Occupation activities; going to creative writing classes and learning cookery skills. He continued taking part in these activities, picking up computer skills, improving his punctuality and generally showing much more motivation.
Feeling the momentum that he’d built up, Guy was shaping up for real progress. Working with the Job Centre, the Supported Housing team and Guy arranged a job interview for a position with the gas board in London. All Guy’s hard work paid off and he got the job!
Guy left Peter House in May and successfully relocated to London. He has now been working for the gas board for four months, meaning that he has passed his probationary period and been awarded a five-year contract. Guy came back to Bath in August to thank the team for their work, which has helped him to move on and start a new chapter in his life.
It was good of Guy to come back and visit because it adds a personal level of appreciation to his move-on. Congratulations to the Supported Housing team, Job Centre and the substance misuse agencies involved in this great piece of work.
(To protect his identity, the name of this service user has been changed.)
2014 August 19 by Matthew Roberts
The Supported Housing team at Julian House is the source of a constant stream of inspiring outcomes for service users. Recently, after two years of committed work supporting one female service user, they have achieved yet another moving result.
Fiona was referred to Julian House through the criminal justice system. Having served a seven-year sentence and lost connection with her family, she was thought to be at risk of homelessness and in urgent need of ongoing support to prevent a relapse into offending behavior.
The Supported Housing team was able to help Fiona with accommodation, so that she had the immediate security of a roof to sleep under. From there, Fiona was encouraged to take part in the wide range of supported activities that Julian House offers to help it’s service users establish a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Along with other female service users who were in similar difficult situations, she took part in discussion groups to build her confidence and in cookery classes, learning to make regular healthy meals and cakes to bake as a treat. For the first time, she also learned to confidently read and write.
For a long time, Fiona had been suffering from ill health and had been unable to access treatment. Understanding that this lack of medical intervention was slowing her recovery, the Supported Housing team worked with Fiona, primary care providers and the NHS to understand the nature of her illness. Fiona has now been diagnosed with a chronic condition and is receiving the appropriate treatment, meaning that her symptoms and her discomfort are both reduced.
After two years of support, Fiona has completed her license conditions, meaning that she has not re-offended for two years and is now free from the watch of probation services. She has been awarded Personal Independence Payments, meaning that she can move into independent housing and regain increasing control over life. Perhaps most importantly, she has reconnected with her children and begun rebuilding the family connections that she had lost.
This achievement would not have been possible without close cooperation between Julian House and it’s partners: probation services, benefits agencies, primary carers and the NHS. Thanks go out to all the people who have contributed to this story and best of luck goes to Fiona as she takes her next steps forwards.
(To protect her identity, the name of this service user has been changed)