- Date: 06/02/2023
Improving the lives of local adults experiencing multiple disadvantage through national Changing Futures project.
Changing Futures is a £64 million programme that supports those experiencing combinations of homelessness, substance misuse, mental health issues, domestic abuse and criminal justice system contact.
Funded by the government's shared outcomes fund and the National Lottery's community fund, the project involves 15 local partnerships across England.
Honeycomb Group brands Concrete and Glow are supporting the Stoke-on-Trent partnership, led by Expert Citizens. Last year, both charities gained a dedicated Case Co-ordinator to work with Concrete and Glow customers supported through the project.
Case Co-ordinator Charlotte joined Concrete last August and now works with men across the city. She creates tailored support plans by linking with local organisations and offers advice to customers like George* experiencing multiple disadvantages.
Charlotte met George in September 2022 .The 38 year old, who has learning difficulties, was independently managing his own Stoke-on-Trent City Council tenancy until last year. He was referred to Changing Futures following a section 42 safeguarding assessment due to concerns for his wellbeing.
With permission from George, Charlotte has shared his story:
“About three years ago George was introduced to monkey dust. He had no history of substance misuse and quickly became addicted. He stopped looking after himself, rarely showered and barely ate. This prompted concerns of self-neglect.
“Alongside this, George was being coerced by drug dealers. They took advantage of his vulnerabilities and used his flat as their own. They followed him home and wouldn’t leave. This caused disruption which led to his neighbours complaining.
“When he received his weekly benefit payments, they’d follow him to the cashpoint and leave him with just £50 a week for all of his bills and food. He struggled financially and would have to beg and borrow from others, including his friends and family. This put a strain on relationships and caused them to break down. He was alone.”
As soon as Charlotte met George, she supported him to leave his flat, as it was no longer safe, and secured him a room at a local hotel. From there, she found new housing for him with a local provider. Here he receives lots of support with everything from cooking and cleaning to budgeting and managing finances.
George also started working with CDAS (Stoke-on-Trent Drug and Alcohol Service) to address drug addiction. He worked on coping mechanisms and learned how to say no.
Charlotte continued: “George now has some really good peer support in place. He loves attending Expert Citizens coffee mornings and meeting new people. He’s making new friends and really putting himself out there. He was taken advantage of before, so I’m working with him to recognise when this could happen again. He’s also rebuilding relationships with his siblings.
“George has also been offered a voluntary role with Expert Citizens which he’s absolutely over the moon about. He’ll receive training on customer service, effective communication and learn how to build a good rapport with people. He’ll also be taking a course to improve his literacy and can’t wait to get started.
“His biggest goal is to support others going through similar situations to what he went through. He wants to help them and show them that the road to recovery isn’t scary – there’s always hope.
“George is now well on the road to recovery and is enjoying all of the opportunities that Changing Futures have given him.
“The programme has been fantastic for George. The partnership working of CDAS, Expert Citizens, George’s social worker and more have been outstanding. George is now settled and looking forward to the future.”
Honeycomb Group Director of Support and Wellbeing, Melanie Dunn, says the project has already had an incredible impact upon the lives of Concrete and Glow customers.
"Here at Honeycomb Group our offering is as diverse as our customers. When we heard about the Changing Futures project we jumped at the chance to be involved and play our part in such an innovative national project.
We were delighted when Concrete and Glow were asked to support the project and were involved with a wide range of partners including Expert Citizen and Stoke-on-Trent City Council to shape the project and secure funding to make it happen.
We’re proud to be part of a project that connects support options for people with multiple disadvantage instead of blocking or isolating them.
It has been incredible to see the impact the project has already had on so many of our customers."
*name changed and stock image used to protect customer’s identity