24 December 2020

Sarah and Billie, both female and 23 years old, have faced a number of challenges in their still young lives, including homelessness, rough sleeping, drug and alcohol addiction, mental health issues and offending, the latter often related to the difficulties they have had in relation to anger management

They were previously thought too high risk for our supported accommodation, under the P2I contract in Taunton, and had moved a number of times from temporary accommodation to the street to private tenancies to mainstream hostels without ever being able to sustain anything for any significant period of time. They initially came into P2I a few years ago but, because of their behaviour, it didn’t work out for them. However, in May 2019, they were referred again and a significant amount of discussion and planning took place between them, the District Council and YMCA Dulverton Group to see if things could be different this time round. Some practical steps were taken, making sure they had a very large room, providing them with a double bed and more storage units than usual and they moved in to one of our staffed houses a few weeks later.

We made sure that the support on offer flexible, not always through structured lengthy sessions but more through grabbing them for a few minutes here and there so as not to crowd them and not to increase their anxiety about supported housing. Over time, they started to co-operate more and more with the support on offer but there would still be weeks, sometimes months when they didn’t want to engage. Their drug use began to reduce significantly, even though they would not engage with drug services, and their anger management improved so that there was just the occasional flare-up rather than regular outbursts.

Sarah and Billie always had good independence skills but needed to develop other skills that would enable them to pass our Tenant Accreditation Scheme and demonstrate that they were ready for independent living. In September 2020, after working with our Taunton team for 16 months, they were ready to move on and now have their own house in another part of the county.

As Sarah said on the day they moved out, ‘I don’t know why you didn’t evict us sometimes but we’re glad you didn’t, thanks for your help. We won’t screw this up’