Recently Church Housing Trust attended an open day and BBQ at Dunbar Street, a scheme in Wakefield that provides supported living to formerly homeless people.
Staff and members of local partnered local services got together with a few of the scheme’s residents to enjoy the summer sunshine, take part in a raffle to raise further funds for the scheme, and admire the building’s recently refurbished communal lounge.
Church Housing Trust funded the refurbishment and helped to provide a float for the food at the BBQ.
Tim, who lives at the scheme, was instrumental in the refurbishment of the small lounge. The residents asked for this unused part of the hostel to be made into a welcoming space. It now has a sofa, tea and coffee area, and a TV and DVD player for film nights. It’s already becoming well-loved as both a social space and a quiet area for meetings and one-to-ones between residents and staff.
“I love it,” Tim says. “You can have a private conversation; in the office it’s busy, there’s always phones going.”
When someone broke three of the windows on his ground floor flat, he was able to sit in the lounge while the staff helped clear up. Although he wasn’t the target of the act of vandalism, he was very distressed.
“I was walking around on broken glass,” he said “the lounge gave me somewhere to go.”
Tim has been at Dunbar Street for just over a year. He was initially in a much larger and busier hotel, which didn’t help his anxiety. Now he has a small flat with a self-contained bathroom.
Before that, he slept on friends’ sofas for a year after losing his council housing. His mother’s death of lung cancer a few years ago caused him to have a breakdown.
His anxiety, paranoia, and isolation led to a lot of self-harming. He was also 10 stone heavier, and barely left the house.Now he’s in Dunbar Street, it’s hard to imagine that old self. He wears his hair in a dark purple bob, with gold hoop earrings, a stripey t-shirt, and a bright turquoise hoody: a colourful outfit for someone who finally feels able to be themselves.
Now he’s in Dunbar Street, it’s hard to imagine that old self. He wears his hair in a dark purple bob, with gold hoop earrings, a stripey t-shirt, and a bright turquoise hoody: a colourful outfit for someone who finally feels able to be themselves.
Tim talks openly about his addiction to amphetamines, which has taken 20 years of his life. He is unable to have any kind of gender reassignment while still using drugs.
He is gradually making his way out of addiction: “I have reduced a lot. Taking drugs doesn’t leave me room for belief in myself.”
“Living here is fantastic,” he continues. “The staff go above and beyond to support me. I’m really shy, but if someone says ‘Come on, get up, we’ll sort this out’ I’ll get involved.”
He has now visited care organisation Turning Point, and attended a psychiatrist, to help with his addiction and mental health. Tim and his friend Becky enjoying the scheme’s trips to the cinema, and film nights in the new lounge, as well as the occasional lunch on the scheme’s small patio.
He’s now far more positive about life, saying that the support staff are ‘guardian angels’. “They help me organise when I can’t get my head around things, when I can’t process, they help me tidy my room.
“They’ve saved my life. I can’t speak highly enough of them.”