You may have seen the moving video of Clara, a 50-year-old mother of four whose mental health issues led to homelessness, on our website earlier in the year.
She struggled to find safe accommodation and bounced between sofas, shared houses and unsafe hostels before she was referred to Riverside. Beck House in Edmonton, where Clara currently lives, has been a life-changing experience, that has allowed her to get a handle on her health issues, feel safe, and plan for a future involving her children.
We recently got an update on Clara from one of the support workers at Beck House. His first comment was “Clara has gone from strength to strength.”
She was successfully elected as tenant representative for the house and has recruited a second-in-command, Michael. She now looks after tenant involvement and her responsibilities involve improving the procedures that ensure the safety of all of the scheme’s tenants.
She is even able to help the staff workload, and gain further experience, by doing health and safety checks on the tenants’ behalf. She is also taking a scrutineer’s training programme to allow her to assess quality assurance in the building.
Known by many of the other residents as ‘mum’, her maternal skills extend far beyond gaining health and safety qualifications. She has been working with B&Q to get donations of plants and equipment for Beck House’s garden, and has also spoken with a local Quaker group to get another cooker for the communal kitchen, in order to open it up for more cooking sessions and potential use by community groups.
She will be nominated to move on soon, and choose her own independent flat in the borough. She’ll hopefully work at one of Riverside’s schemes, first as an apprentice with a mentor, and then as a full-time employee. Even if she doesn’t continue working with Riverside, she’s now ready for a career in the housing sector.
Although she still has some health problems, Clara’s case worker proudly comments: “For her, the sky is the limit.”
Since January, at Beck House, Church Housing Trust has been able to fund socialising and self-esteem building trips to Thorpe Park; a living skills course for up to 15 residents; the fee to cover one resident’s Electrical Installation and Testing course; a CBT Licence and passport; plus resettlement grants for eight individuals over the past year.
The scheme accepts people with a number of issues, such as alcohol dependency, those at risk of re-offending, learning difficulties or victims of domestic violence, as long as they engage with the service and want make progress. They receive tailored, one-to-one support plans, and when they do move out, there is a move-on service.
Staff support residents in addressing psychological or health issues, learning necessary life skills, and preparing for independent living. They help people like Clara find other services to deal with ongoing needs, such as counselling or benefits support, and will also aim to get residents into some form of education, training or employment.
To support this project and others like it, please donate today.