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  • Date: 21/04/2023

Giving someone a safe place to stay is the first step but tenancy sustainment is so much more...

This week we're celebrating our Tenancy Sustainment Team who play a vital role across our homelessness charity Concrete.

The team, which launched nearly a year ago, helps customers manage their tenancy. This includes support around budgeting, paying bills, setting up utilities and finding opportunities to develop skills. It all contributes towards breaking the cycle of homelessness and reducing the chances of someone becoming homeless again.

This year, Tenancy Sustainment Officer Riz has guided a local man to secure a training opportunity at Stoke-on-Trent College. Jim, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, was impacted by homelessness last year. The 21-year-old started receiving support from Concrete in the summer, and was paired with Riz in October. Jim was feeling uninspired and unmotivated, with nothing to focus on. He wanted to build up work experience and develop personal skills but didn’t know where to start. Keen to help, Riz stepped in and supported Jim to find new opportunities.

Riz explained: “When I met Jim, he told me he was struggling. He didn’t have much of a schedule and it was making him feel really low. When people have been entrenched in homelessness, sometimes for many years, getting into a normal routine can be difficult. I did some research around college courses, but with it being October, many of them had started the month before. I didn’t give up – I wanted Jim to have something to focus on, something that would give him that schedule and inspire him to get out of bed each morning and seize the day.”

Riz discovered a 12-week programme with the Princes Trust, starting at Stoke-on-Trent College in the New Year. The programme, which focuses on personal development, gives participants the chance to gain new skills, get a qualification and meet new people. Riz continued: “I spoke to Jim about it and he said he was up for the challenge. I showed him and his father videos of the programme and they were so excited. They were eager to get started and knew it would be an amazing opportunity.”

Months passed and Jim waited for his course start date. He was excited and counting down the days. Unfortunately, just a few weeks before he was due to start studying, he was admitted to hospital.

“I received a call from Jim’s father who told me that he had been admitted to hospital as a safeguarding precaution. Jim suffers with his mental health. He said he had hit rock bottom and was feeling the lowest he had ever felt. I spoke to Jim’s father, who believed it was best for him not to attend the course and instead focus on getting well.”

Riz worked with Jim’s service coordinator – another member of the Concrete team that provides more intensive one-to-one support – and family to make sure Jim had as much support around him as possible. After a short stay in hospital, he was discharged and started to feel much more like himself.

“Jim was still really keen to attend his course at the college, but at this point it was just days away and we weren’t sure if his place would still be available. I contacted the college just in case and amazingly they said yes. He had secured his place back on the course and we were all so excited! I visited Jim just before his first day and he was just raring to go. I gave him a few words of encouragement and told him to give it his shot.

“It was amazing to see the patience and determination from Jim over those months. Against all odds and some difficult personal times, he started his course and is doing well.”

Following the course, Jim will be starting full time education at Stoke-on-Trent College in September.

“It’s the next step in his journey,” explained Riz. “He’ll learn valuable work and life skills to help create a fulfilling career and future for himself. Now he feels like he has a purpose and something to work towards each day.”

To find out more about Concrete visit: