Kerry, now Project Manager for our services in Worcester, shares the story of a young man she supported in turning his life around…

“I have been supporting Lewis* since January 2017 when he first became homeless from a social rented property. Being a care leaver, he required support with sourcing appropriate accommodation, debt relief, mental health diagnosis and support, budgeting, prevention of offending and support to maintain family relationships. 

As a child Lewis had experienced a house fire, from which he pulled his younger sibling to safety.  He had been living with foster families for the remainder of his childhood and transferred to the Care Leavers team when he was 16 and given his own property with minimal support.

Following initial assessment we, the No Second Night Out team, identified that as a vulnerable young person, Lewis would be eligible for support from Nightstop. With the assistance of this agency, an interim placement was sourced and we settled him there for a couple of weeks whilst we looked at alternative longer term suitable housing options. At this time, Lewis’s income was very minimal at around £50 per week. He had worked in the past and qualified as a Chef. He expressed a desire to work in this sector again once his housing status was settled, he was also very keen to pay off his debts.

Lewis was accepted into Heenan court (a housing managed property) and remained there with minimal support for 18 months.  We referred him to a project called Building Better Opportunities who were running a scheme named ‘Be Your Own Boss’.  He finished the course and went to London to meet a Dragon’s Den panel member to receive his recognition and award which he was very excited about! Shortly after he started working as a chef again.

We continued to look for more suitable accommodation for Lewis, however this proved more and more difficult due to his high support needs. His Father sadly passed away in February 2018 which saw his mental health decline quite rapidly and resulted in a Hospital admission when Lewis tried to take his own life. I remember being informed of this by his housing provider and I immediately called the Hospital to ask how he was and found out he would be discharged but with no transport. As it was snowing heavily (Beast from the East), I sought agreement from my line manager and went to collect him from Hospital and took him home.  When we arrived, the flat was in such a poor state that I decided to stay with him to clean and took the opportunity to spend some quality time talking to him to unpack all the issues he was experiencing that have made him feel so low. 

On top of dealing with his bereavement, Lewis was also involved with Police for a historic offence. We supported him throughout and attended court to provide a statement of his struggles where he was given a suspended sentence. We ensured he attended probation appointments and helped with reminders of these in conjunction with the probation officer.

Lewis was then unfortunately evicted from Heenan Court due to several incidents of anti-social behaviour and verbal threats whilst under the influence as he was drinking quite a lot when his Father passed.  He left his job as he wasn’t allowed bereavement leave and we supported him with this and with making a new application for benefits.  We put him in touch with St Richard’s Hospice where he started receiving counselling and also mental health support from his GP who referred him to Healthy Minds and Lewis is still engaging with them now. 

I assisted Lewis to make a new homeless application and after giving all of the information to the housing officer, they offered temporary accommodation and accepted a full housing duty for him despite the circumstances around his eviction. The Housing Officer recognised Lewis’s troubled past and current difficulties that had led to this. After a couple of weeks we managed to move Lewis int our own property (Park Street) as we felt he would thrive there with the support onsite. This has turned out to be true. 

Since being at Park Street, Lewis has come so far! With regular and consistent support, he is a now able to manage his mental health better, engage with the agencies that he needs to live more independently and has reduced his drinking to almost none. There have been a couple of incidents where he has acted on impulse, however following engagement from myself and another colleague he has accepted that there are other ways to deal with difficult situations and chooses now to seek advice from us before acting. Lewis has made headway with re-building his relationship with his family and now has some good friends around him for support.

We completed a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) application when we had more evidence of his financial situation and this was successful first time around! Lewis chose to pay off large amounts of his debts (which were in the region of £5,500) and has now paid off over 80% of those by using his PIP back payment. I then liaised with the housing officer so that he could bid for properties again. Lewis has since received an offer of social housing – a position he never expected to be in again!

On one of my recent visits to Park Street I saw Lewis and he expressed how grateful he was for the support the team and I had given him saying, “This lady saved my life!”

I am truly honoured to have been a part of Lewis’s journey and am excited to see him develop and grow as he takes on the next chapter of his life.”

*Name changed for anonymity