A homeless man who previously lived in a tent, now has his own flat and is applying for jobs, thanks to Bournemouth-based charitable housing association BCHA.
Keith, 53, became homeless in 2020 after his landlord suddenly sold the property where he was living.
Until July 2021, the former welder slept rough in a tiny tent in woodland at Canford Cliffs, Poole.
He said: “Sleeping rough was okay when the weather was fine. I ate at places like the church soup kitchen in Lansdowne and generally didn’t mix with others that much because I had managed to stop drinking and didn’t want to get sucked back into it.
“But over last summer, every time we had heavy rain I was flooded out and all my things including my sleeping bag were soaked. The last time that happened my sleeping bag was ruined and I started to feel pretty desperate.
“Luckily some people [outreach workers] from the St Mungo’s charity found me and assessed me as officially homeless and things started to change pretty quickly.”
As part of the national Everyone In initiative, approximately 15,000 people who were sleeping rough in unsafe communal settings or at imminent risk of rough sleeping were placed into emergency accommodation during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 500 people were helped into emergency accommodation across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
Alongside Everyone In, the Next Steps Accommodation Programme (NSAP) provides the financial resources needed to support local authorities and their partners to prevent these people from returning to the streets.
BCP Council placed Keith into emergency B&B accommodation and from there BCHA stepped in to offer long term accommodation and support.
Keith said: “BCHA have given me a flat at their Clock House premises in Bournemouth.
“I have my own safe and clean place, with my own bills to pay and my life is getting back on track – although I still wake up some morning and think someone will tell me it's all a mistake and I have to leave!"
He continued: “BCHA has also been helping me to identify my skills and is giving me training and coaching so I can get back to work.
“I am currently applying for roles in catering and I also hope to start volunteering soon with BCHA’s Ignite Allotment Project in Throop.
“I also help to look after the small garden at the Clock House and my own new patio space.
“It still hasn’t all really sunk in yet. This would have seemed like a pipe dream just a few months ago.”
The award-winning Clock House in Ringwood Road is a purpose-built, brand new property with 15 flats.
The NSAP residents who have moved in - including Keith - have all been homeless at some point and have had emergency B&B accommodation provided by BCP Council. Most have been living in a single room for between six and 18 months.
Through the support of his BCHA Meaningful Occupational Coordinator (MOC) Keith has managed to settle into the Clock House quickly and has since registered on BCHA’s At Your Service programme where he has already completed a qualification in Food Hygiene.
Val Jefferies, Project Manager of At Your Service said:
“At Your Service has been launched in response to unemployment resulting from Covid and the need for trained staff for the struggling hospitality industry.
“We are offering unemployed people like Keith the chance to gain new skills, refresh existing skills and gain experience and qualifications to equip them to return to work in one of the most important growth areas.
“Through this and our other educational and employability programmes, Keith will be able to access work experience and help establish connections with local employers within hospitality and leisure, as well as receiving intensive personalised support.
“Keith’s engagement has been outstanding. He has a safe and secure place to live and we look forward to supporting him as he enters work and enjoys a fulfilling future.”
Councillor Hazel Allen, BCP Portfolio Holder for Homelessness, said: “This is such a positive story and outcome, and it is a fantastic example of local agencies working together to enable people like Keith to make the move off the streets and to be able to secure suitable accommodation, training and employment.
“I wish Keith all the very best for the future and I hope his story gives others assurance that we and our partners are working hard to end homelessness and give people a better future.”
For more information on At Your Service call: 07971614935/07971 640948 or visit: https://www.bcha.org.uk/our-services/employability-skills/at-your-service/
For media information, please contact Debbie Granville, Deep South Media, acting on behalf of BCHA. Tel: 07884 657782 Email: Debbie.firstname.lastname@example.org
BCHA is a charitable housing association and major provider of a diverse range of housing, support and learning services for socially excluded people. BCHA is based in Bournemouth and delivers services across the South West from Plymouth to Reading.
St Mungo’s is a leading homelessness charity with national influence. It works in partnership with local authorities, health colleagues and communities, to end homelessness and rebuild lives. It operates in London and across the South East and the South West of England. Its outreach teams are out 365 days a year supporting people experiencing street homelessness. Last year the charity supported more than 31,600 people who were homeless, or at risk of homelessness, through 207 services. St Mungo’s services support over 3,200 people every night. St Mungo’s believes rough sleeping can be ended in this country, and that policies and interventions can be put in place to end homelessness for good.