Phil, 35, is a real My Space success story. He’s been with us for three years, in the same property and with the same Housing Support Officer, with whom he’s built up a strong relationship.
Before coming to My Space Phil had been tackling drug and addiction problems. He had been in and out of hospital and prison and was living in a care home. Our Housing Support Officer worked with Phil to maintain his tenancy, supporting him with sorting out his benefits and bills, and he has also benefited from help from our repairs and maintenance team.
Phil had been helping out at a foodbank, but it was at an open day at his former care home, Langley House Trust, that another volunteering opportunity came up: helping people with learning disabilities. Phil has now been volunteering since September 2016, and supports residents with their planners, organises outings, runs meetings and is basically there to lend an ear. “It’s hard work, but very rewarding,” Phil told us. “It’s different every day. There’s some challenging behaviour but I’ve had the right training to deal with it.” Phil now has a 36 hour a week position as a Project Worker. He says: “It’s a good company to work for, there are some good opportunities.” As well as his job, Phil is also getting ready to move on from My Space and take on his own tenancy.
Phil’s hard work has paid off, and earlier this year it was rewarded with an invitation to the House of Lords to receive an award from one of Langley House Trust’s patrons, Lord Ramsbotham, in recognition of how far he’s come – an amazing achievement!
Laura, 30, was one of My Space’s first tenants, she has been with us for over four years and has been in her current property for three. Before coming to us she was living with another housing association, but in reality: “I don’t know where I was – I was out of control, I couldn’t pay my bills, I was very much off track,” she told us. “I was in a destructive, controlling relationship and using a lot of cannabis.
“I needed to build trust and relationships before I could start to address my problems. I was very resistant to change – now I realise I needed consistency and stability.” Getting the right Housing Support Officer in place was important, and the process itself helped Laura get used to change.
It took a couple of years for Laura to start to see a change in herself – she took a slow and steady approach, but help from My Space with budgeting, healthy eating and how to save money, as well as support with mental health issues meant her journey was ultimately a successful one. As well as My Space, Laura received support from Pathways to Recovery, social services and mental health services.
“People like us, we get left behind, we struggle. But I haven’t been pushed, it’s come from me at my own pace, and I’m in a completely different mindset now,” she says. “I’d recommend My Space to anyone – they have allowed me to be me. I’m allowed to have bad days as well as good days, they understand and let me have those feelings.”
It’s amazing to see how far Laura has come. “She has always been able to hold her hands up and be honest about how she feels, which has really helped,” her Housing Support Office told us. “She has taken parenting classes and realised that the more stable she is, the more stable her son will be. She has now been discharged by her social worker, the early intervention team and her health visitor, but will only need to move on from us when she’s absolutely ready.”
So what does the future hold for Laura? As well as studying hairdressing, she is fully engaged at Pathways and hopes to become a volunteer there. She is also planning to study Reiki: “I want to heal people. I want to give back what I’ve been given, and my goal is to work with families and children.”
Laura is feeling positive about the future – situations that would have once daunted her she now finds exciting. “I’m excited by where the journey is taking me. I used to think of my mistakes as failures, but now I view them as lessons – I’m always thinking positively.
“I’m learning life again – it’s made me feel whole!”
Danielle, 23, moved into her flat in mid-January. She’s really happy there, and she’s getting all the support she needs to make her tenancy a success.
“I really like the flat – it’s near the shops and the bus routes,” she told us. “The staff are really helpful and there to give me a hand if I need it. They are helping me practise cooking in my kitchen!”
Danielle is studying Animal Care at college and hopes to get a voluntary job working with animals in the future – her favourite are horses!