Our stories: Homes with Support
We are proud to share some of the stories of people who have used our Homes with Support services.
Please note that names have been changed for confidentiallity.
COVID, Cuckooing and Country Lines
Connor was referred to Squared by the Social Services Leaving Care team and initially moved into one of hostels. After a month at the hostel he was identified as someone who could live more independently so a referral was made for him to move to a HMO.
After a successful assessment Connor was offered a room and moved into one of our HMOs. He settled in well and was even helping to support other tenants moving into the house over the next few weeks.
Over time however it became clear that Connor was demonstrating clear budgeting issues, a result of binge drinking around payments days. After further investigation it became clear that Connor had mental health issues from his experiences in the care system. The team knew that Connor’s goal of applying to go on the housing list at Luton Borough Council and achieve full independence would not be possible unless he could improve his budgeting. On top of this Connor had fallen into arrears on his service charge which again would be a barrier to getting on the housing list.
Over the next few months our team supported Connor around his payment day, ensuring he completed monthly shopping orders which he fully engaged with. Connor quickly saw the benefits of going this and while he was still drinking, he was now spending less money and consuming less alcohol each month.
Regularly meeting with the team and utilising our drop-in service at the support hub, Connor had agreed to be referred to our Time to Talk service to help address his mental health issues. He successfully engaged with this service, improving his own mental health which led to him reducing his arrears and becoming more organised with his budgeting.
Following discussions with the Leaving Care team, we agreed for Connor to move into a self-contained supported accommodation as a stepping stone to independence.
Then as the pandemic and first lockdown took hold, our face-to-face support reduced. Connor began to become more withdrawn and isolated. Unfortunately, he then became a target for a drugs gang who exploited his vulnerability by manipulating him. Initially they bought him gifts and provided much needed attention, befriending Connor with the aim of eventually using his accommodation as a place to store drugs.
By this point, despite attempted interventions by Squared staff, Connor in his own words was too deep in trouble to ask for help. Over the next month Connor lost control of his life, with the gang controlling what he did and where he went. He assisted them in their operations and even stayed in their safe houses. This included being forced to strip and being beaten up by members of the gang daily.
After a few failed escape attempts and afraid he would be attacked again or worse, Connor attempted suicide. Not long after this Connor did manage to escape and asked for help from some strangers. The Police and Ambulance services were called and Connor went to hospital.
Squared were then contacted by the Police and informed us that as well as being a victim of cuckooing, Connor’s gang were part of a wider County Lines activity. Upon leaving hospital Connor was moved to a hotel outside of Bedfordshire and fully co-operated with the Police.
Over the next few months we continued to support Connor remotely and by visiting him at his temporary accommodation. Working together with the Police, Social Services, Luton Borough Council, Local Authority Housing and his current housing provider, we’ve begun the process of rehabilitation with Connor, recently supporting him to register with a new GP and dentist.
Connor has improved a little but is still traumatised from what happened, his GP now providing further mental health support as he looks to re-build his life and get back on track.
Chris arrived at Squared in late August 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chris lost his job and accommodation in quick succession. A typical example of someone whose livelihood has been taken by this terrible pandemic, in the worst ways possible. A lone migrant, Chris had very few local connections in the UK and was struggling as to what to do next to rebuild his life.
He arrived at Squared and began to build up his own network amongst the Squared Homes team. Chris engaged really well while staying with the EU migrant project, working tirelessly to get back in to full time employment since day one. He has now successfully moved into one of our HMO properties where he feels safe and supported, continuing to face the unique challenges the current pandemic brings.
To help him get back into employment, Chris has been referred to our Purposeful Employment service so that hopefully he can achieve his goals of complete independence once more.
Recovering from the unthinkable
Ricky came to us a broken man after being a victim of financial abuse, identity fraud and modern-day slavery. This combined with the breakdown of his marriage had left his mental health at the point of him wanting to give up. Ricky was quickly diagnosed with depression, moving into one of our HMOs in 2017.
When Ricky first moved in, he was worried that his previous abusers would see him and come after him, Ricky stayed in his room, keeping his windows and curtains closed at all times.
After a couple of months of weekly visits from his HMO Co-ordinator, Ricky began to trust people again and engage with the coaching support being provided. His confidence started to grow and he was soon referred to our Time to Talk therapy service.
Ricky continues to show very good progress with the therapy Squared is providing, coming out of his shell and having the confidence to believe that he can still achieve his goals despite his past experiences.
Ricky has re-established regular contact with his children and committed to put his past behind him. The HMO team have witnessed a complete transformation in his confidence and ambitions, with Ricky clearly believing he is once again in control of his own destiny.
Such is his great progress; Ricky has now been offered a secure tenancy with Luton Borough Council so he can continue to move forward with his life.
On the ropes to knockout blows
George’s story …
When we met George he was awaiting a court appearance, following a long history of convictions. We believe that everybody deserves a second chance and offered him a place at our HMOs. At court he was put on an electronic tag and was released, returning to our accommodation.
After a few coaching sessions with his HMO Co-ordinator, it became apparent that there was some deeper trauma from his past that still haunted him.
George was offered counselling with our Time to Talk service and has been a regular attendee. George has given hugely positive feedback, as over the course of these sessions he became determined to change his thinking patterns. He became more positive in his outlook and more ambitious in the goals he set for himself and his future.
After initially wanting to pursue support work to help others, he then tried boxing after being inspired by another boxer who had many similarities with him and his past.
Such was his progress, the mother of George’s daughter reached out to him and was willing to give him a chance to reunite with his daughter. George now sees his daughter weekly and is now even more motivated to turn his life around.
No longer involved with the criminal justice system, George has now gone the longest period in his adult life without being arrested.
His boxing career goes from strength to strength too. After winning both of his opening matches, George has now been approached by a reputable boxing promoter. He can now see his career and his life outside of the ring moving in the right direction.
Isolation to engagement with a musical twist
John’s story …
John from Bedford was referred to Squared in November 2019 from the Luton Borough Council as a rough sleeper following a relationship breakdown and issues around drugs. We accepted the referral and completed an initial assessment. As a team we talked over the best way we could offer support and find appropriate housing that would suit John’s needs.
John was diagnosed with mental health issues namely depression and anxiety mainly due to cannabis use and family history. His father left the family home when John was a young boy and started a new relationship and family. There was some contact as John got older with John’s father getting one of John’s girlfriend’s pregnant. John doesn’t seem to have a great circle of friends, in fact, he never mentions meeting up with others.
At first John didn’t really engage and avoided eye contact and hardly left the house other than to go to the local shop. He was picked up by his mum and step dad to go to Bedford at weekends.
John’s key workers took things slowly hoping a connection would build up, making a point of trying to respond to calls and messages quickly to reinforce he was supported.
John spends a lot of his free time developing his own music and we’ve tried to encourage him to join our groups run by staff. Due to his anxieties about mixing with others, at this point, he is not keen.
We also tried to support John to address housing issues and to get on to the housing register but John has no local connection and has not been living or working in Luton for five years so this has not been successful yet. We will be retrying after John has been with us a little longer. We will also be submitting a request for an application to our own Homes for Independent Living.
John has managed to settle in well and is now engaging well with staff regarding health, relationships, music, managing his tenancy and accommodation to the point that if there is an issue in the house e.g. cleanliness, bins etc John will keep us updated.
We supported John to contact his GP with medication issues and offered one on one counselling therapy. It took some months for John to take this up but now his mental health has improved, and he’s started to look more positively at his future.
John contacts his key worker a few times a week and has started sharing his music over WhatsApp.
John is continuing to engage and working towards a positive move on, we are still offering support from in house therapy service. His mental health has improved but he still has periods of anxiety and with support he is continuing to manage his mental health.
Kelvin’s story …
Kelvin moved into a Squared property in November 2018. He was working at that time, but then lost his job after a month of moving in with us.
He became demotivated and resorted to smoking cannabis and sleeping all day in his room.
Following weekly one to one keywork sessions, Kelvin was able to see a purpose in his life and made the necessary changes. In our sessions we discussed what Kelvin wanted to do, what was important in his life and what would happen if he didn’t address the issues which led him to be able to see the pain of doing nothing about his situation.
His engagement improved and he started doing his music more and looking for jobs. He registered for a security course at Diverse FM which he completed and became their best student for attending all sessions required.
He also showed interest in a gardening job at Cleaning and Gardening Squared and asked for support to fill in his application form. He was so motivated and actively looking for a job and engaging with his support worker effectively that he only needed minimum support and did the rest independently.
Kelvin was also signposted to several recruiting agencies and was given information on job vacancies online and in local papers.
Kelvin passed his security course and was identified as having a positive attitude and given the opportunity to go on a CCTV course.
Happily, Kelvin secured a job with the gardening team at Cleaning and Gardening Squared, now becoming a reliable member of the team and really enjoying his job.
He has now moved on to a new house closer to work so that he can cycle.
He has also invested in some new recording equipment and enjoying his music, writing and recording.
He also has applied for a driving licence and plans to start lessons soon.
Family tragedy to aspiring web developer
Jason’s story …
Before moving to Luton, Jason was raised in London. He lived in a council property with his mum and older sister. His mum passed away in 2018 and he was deeply affected by the tragedy which left him feeling isolated. He turned to alcohol for comfort, which quickly escalated to alcohol abuse and this had detrimental effect on his oral health - his teeth became badly damaged. He accumulated non manageable debts to sponsor his habits and it destabilised him physically and mentally.
As a result of his mum’s death, Jason was left homeless. His sister didn’t feel she could look after him as his alcohol abuse and dependency had taken a deleterious effect on his mental and physical health - a burden she couldn’t bear. Attempts to help Jason were unsuccessful, in as much as, he would go in and out of rehab centres and was referred to several alcohol support groups.
Since Jason was now homeless, his friend invited him to come and stay with him temporarily in Luton. In May 2019, Jason’s friend supported him to make a self-referral application to our service. Jason was invited for an assessment and was accepted into our service, moving in in May 2019.
Jason was allocated a Coach, who still works with him today. He attends regular coaching sessions and together they discuss the areas he needs support with, both agreeing a support plan through his risk assessment. Using SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-oriented) objectives, they looked at achievable goals to meet in a dedicated timescale and keep up with progress made as well as staying motivated. This type of support enables the client to express their needs and support them to make informed choices.
Jason was supported to apply for the right benefits, which enabled him to pay off his outstanding debts. He received further support and advise to set up a direct debit to pay for his personal contributions, in order to maintain his accommodation. Jason was also referred to Resolutions for his alcohol dependency and Luton Wellbeing for his mental health. He was supported to switch to a local GP in order to support his recovery as well as a local dentist to support with his dental care.
In September 2019, Jason was supported to chase up his rehabilitation admission for his alcohol abuse through his GP and Resolution keyworker and it paid dividends as he was successfully admitted into the Detox Rehabilitation Centre. The programme lasted 7 days and Jason, successfully completed the programme.
Upon completion of the Detox programme, Jason was referred to Luton Wellbeing for counselling, attending both face to face and telephone counselling sessions. The individual counselling sessions enabled Jason to concentrate and deal with his grief and how to find healthy pathways of dealing and expressing himself. Luton Wellbeing also supported Jason with his physical health by awarding Jason with a 6 months gym membership at Active Luton Gym. He found it difficult to get to the gym as it wasn’t close to his accommodation, so staff supported him in acquiring a bicycle through advertising on social media to better his commute to the gym and running his errands.
In March 2020, Jason moved into our stage 2 accommodation and continues to be supported by Squared. Jason is currently waiting for an external cosmetic dental appointment through his dentist, to help fix his damaged teeth.
He has suggested that he would like to further his training in web development as he is currently self-tutoring online which has increased his self- esteem and confidence. He affirms that he has not indulged himself with the consumption of alcohol ever since his detox rehabilitation programme. Squared is working with him to find a more independent and suitable property in an area where he has family links and support.
Anxious to help others
Tom’s story …
Tom lived most of his life in a broken home as his parents separated when he was young. This affected him immensely as he struggled to deal with the daily demands of life. He started to sink into depression, until he got so clouded by it, resulting in him developing anxiety issues which he still has to this day.
As Tom’s mental health issues continued to escalate, he moved away from the accommodation which he shared with his mum, resulting in him being in a whirlwind of supported living services, who tried to help him, before finally ended up at Squared in January 2018.
Tom’s support varied as his needs were not restricted to basic support needs. He was very much a recluse, always quiet and preferred it that way as opposed to being in the company of others. He would isolate himself from staff and other tenants, spending a vast amount of time in his room. Tom lacked motivation to carry out the most basic of chores eg cleaning up after himself. Squared staff resolved to support Tom with the cleaning of his room, at least once a week, to see if he could be motivated to do it himself. The support went on for a while until Tom, warmed up to staff and slowly began to engage himself with them. As a result of Tom started to gain confidence and could easily communicate his needs to staff. He was supported in how to budget his finances by setting up payment plans for outstanding personal contributions he owed. He also enrolled on a budgeting and mentoring course through his church. In addition, Tom was also referred to our Open Minds therapy service to support him with his anxiety.
As Tom felt inspired, he decided to enrol with a college to study for a Health and Social Care, level two Diploma in September 2019. He said he chose this course as he felt that he needed to help others.
Tom needed financial help for school essentials to facilitate his education and staff supported him to apply for a financial grant through the Buttle UK. Tom’s application was successful, and he was awarded the grant. This helped him boost his morale and mental wellbeing. Tom managed to buy a laptop amongst other school essentials, making it easier for him to do his schoolwork and studies.
Tom was also able to enrol at a local gym on a year’s membership to help better his physical wellbeing too. He was also able buy some clothing and household items to help prepare him for independent living.
Staff further supported Tom to register through the council for housing and he is hoping to start bidding for accommodation and get his own place.
Tom uses his free time by engaging in various activities through his local church, he started volunteering helping him to develop new skills. Tom mentioned that he is happy and keen to give something back, as he feels that he was helped when he needed it. This year, Tom is saving up some money with the hope to go on holiday abroad with his Dad.
David came to Squared when he was 16 following an eviction from another hostel.
In November 2018 David’s room was searched as it was suspected that he had a firearm and a machete. The police found a BB gun and machete and David was issued with an eviction notice which he successfully appealed and was placed on a behavioral agreement.
During this time David’s rent arrears grew and he was at risk of losing his accommodation. The team decided to complete a new working agreement which involved a new support worker who wasn’t aware of previous incidents, so they were not discussed.
As part of David’s agreement, he had to attend college and staff kept in contact with his tutor. They also spent time with him listening to his music and understanding his passions to build a rapport with him.
David was engaging but his arrears continued to threaten his accommodation. It became evident that David was missing a normal teenage lifestyle and was resentful that he had the burden of worrying about where to live which made him unaccepting of support.
When David turned 18, staff took him and another resident to the barbers to enjoy a haircut and a game of pool. A donation was made and he received aftershave and a voucher of his choice.
David was working well keeping to a new payment plan and was attending a new college and playing for their basketball team. Everything was going well for him and he was moved to our stage 2 hostel.
Unfortunately, he stopped engaging again so staff intervened to find that he had lost his place with the college as he couldn’t afford the travel and the payments towards his arrears. This was a huge blow as he expressed that basketball was his only passion in life and now it was gone. It became clear once a budget exercise was completed that David could not keep up with the payments.
Staff reached out to another team manager to get some advice on a Vicar Relief fund to clear David’s arrears. This was applied for and he was successfully granted £400 to clear his arrears. At the same time staff had applied for a BUTTLE grant to provide him with essential items to ensure he could keep up with his studies. He was awarded £1250 towards a bike, a laptop, clothes, music equipment and household items. Staff supported him to get these items which gave him a boost to keep going at college and focus on his music. He was keeping up with his payments, so a referral was made to our HMO (house in multiple occupation) team.
David’s HMO assessment was successful, so he moved into one of our HMO properties and he secured a job at a warehouse nearby. David is now waiting to start his new exciting role and is living closer to family - he is happy and feels safe. He has all he needs to continue at college and excel in his music. David has a unique and impressive resilience to life’s challenges and leaves a lasting impression on anyone he meets.
Paying back persistence
Carlos self-referred to one of our hostels after being signposted by his friend who was already a resident. He unfortunately did not have the appropriate documentation to prove he would have access to public funding as his tent was set on fire and all his documents burned. He was at great risk on the streets and presented as physically and emotionally exhausted.
The hostel staff and student social worker worked hard to collate enough evidence to prove he was eligible to access public funding by calling the Home Office, quoting his National Insurance and passport numbers along with other details too.
Staff then supported Carlos to apply for his habitual residency documentation to get the process started for him.
Carlos is now safely off the streets in the hostel and all the work to help him access public funding has been completed by our student social worker. Carlos is keen to start English classes and has been making some improvements to the hostel to keep him active and occupied. He has completed deep cleans and filled and painted the communal hallways - the hostel has never looked better.
Averting a crisis
William self-referred himself to our hostel as he was living in a friend’s car. He was a care leaver in his late 20’s who had very little support and wasn’t able to settle and get the support he needed. He was suffering greatly with his mental health and disclosed thoughts of ending his life. He had no address therefore could not apply for Universal Credit.
Members of our Homes with Support team assessed William but didn’t have a room available, so initially they supported William to declare himself as homeless at the council. Unfortunately, he was initially informed by the council that he would not be eligible for emergency accommodation. Squared staff then invested several hours to advocate for him and finally managed to negotiate two nights in emergency accommodation. Staff managed to get William bedding and food for the initial two days while they worked on other options for him which included negotiating with other support teams. They continued to support William with his anxiety about his situation.
Eventually a room became available in one of our hostels and William moved in. Staff have continued to support him by requesting an assessment for him with our HMO (house in multiple occupation) team. They have also supported William to apply for Universal Credit and helped him put a CV together. To help William with his mental health, he was also referred to our therapy service to help with his mental health wellbeing.