#Proud Tenant Stories

Arran Williams, November 18, 2015

Social housing is something of a hot topic at the moment with the current housing crisis rarely far from the pages of the national press. The shortage of affordable housing and the situation that that places some of Britain’s most vulnerable residents can tend to place a dark cloud over the housing sector. As they carry out the often thankless task of combating the increasing shortage, negative press can often make the situation all the worse.

As we celebrate #HousingDay 2015, we felt it was important to highlight the positive stories that are there to be told. Real-life accounts from people that, without the work and commitment of housing associations, local councils and similar organisations would find themselves in dire straits.

Here are their stories

Avril, L&Q Housing

Following a difficult childhood and having escaped an alcoholic husband, Avril found herself without permanent accommodation. With the help of a friend, she contacted a number of housing associations and received a response from L&Q Housing, they had found a flat for her in Catford, South East London.

“It was a lovely flat in a large converted house” says Avril, “when I got the keys, I was so relieved, I sat in the middle of the floor and cried”.

Unfortunately, Avril’s troubles didn’t end there. Workmen who had come to decorate made a startling discovery.

“They discovered that the building was subsiding so I had to move”.

Being disabled, Avril needed ground floor accommodation and in order to aid the search, she told her housing officer that she would move out of London if needed.

“I was so worried that they wouldn’t find me anywhere suitable but I needn’t have, I soon got a call telling me they had found me a place”.

The place turned out to be Avril’s dream property, a bungalow with a little garden on Canvey Island.

“I was over the moon, I never would have got a bungalow if I’d stayed in London”.

Avril quickly settled in and now, at 82, is a happy member of her community. She has built up a circle of friends amongst her neighbours and, despite two strokes and two heart attacks, remains happy and upbeat. She also recognises the massive contribution that L&Q Housing have made to her life.

“L&Q have been like family to me. They have always been there to help when I needed it”.

Gina, Transform Housing & Support

This is the story of Gina, a Transform Housing & Support resident.

“My mental health problems started in my first year of university in Exeter. I took on an awful lot while I was studying, without much support, and at the same time I was experiencing family problems. Within the first term I had my first breakdown. I stopped taking medication for my depression; for three months I didn’t know what I was doing and ended up in a lot of debt. One night I even walked across the motorway and ended up in hospital under a police section. It was a tough experience, I was lucky I didn’t do anything more serious”.

“I moved into a Transform property in Runnymede which was nearer to home. I was so pleased to be rescued by Transform. I had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia which makes you really conscious of how the outside world sees you. It was an uncertain and complicated time, but Transform helped me”.

“Eventually my keyworker helped me move to a Transform property two streets away from my mum, which is brilliant. She has helped me loads. She’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, with the patience of a saint. Things have changed a lot – it’s a completely different way of life from where I started off. Once you’ve been through the sort of things I’ve been through, you are really appreciative of a home and having a bit more stability”.

“No matter how tough it gets Transform are reliable and always there when you need to ask for help. Transform has grounded me and given me hope for the future”.

Dylan & Andy, Southern Housing Group

As well as providing homes for 68,000 residents, Southern Housing Group also undertakes a range of activities aimed at improving the lives of their tenants. Southern Works is the group’s employment and training programme, helping residents find work in their chosen industries.

Dylan is a Southern resident in London who wanted to work in construction. Working with Southern Works, Dylan discovered an opportunity to gain an apprenticeship with Durkan Ltd. With the support of Southern Works, Dylan was offered a traineeship with Durkan which would allow him to gain experience working on a building site and spend one day a week in college in order to gain the necessary qualification to be considered for the apprenticeship.

“I was thrilled with the support I got from Southern Works and I’d really encourage others to use their services to kick start their careers” says Dylan.

Andy is a Southern Housing Group resident based in Essex. Having struggled to find work, he appealed to Southern Works for help. The specialised staff worked closely with Andy to help him in his job search and in developing a range of valuable skills to boost his employability.

“The staff at Southern Housing Group were caring, offered support and were really involved throughout the whole process” explains Andy. “They also got in touch with me regularly to see how I was getting on. I’m grateful for the advice and tips they gave me, including how to be confident in job interviews. This really helped me to learn the basics I needed to get work”.