Starts at Home Day – Championing Supported Housing

Starts at Home Logo

Starts at Home Day will see housing associations up and down the country celebrate supported housing and the positive impact it makes on thousands of lives. This day of action is central to the Starts at Home campaign, which has a simple but important aim – to ensure that people who need extra support  have a safe home that meets their needs.

GCH is supporting this campaign because we understand the lifechanging impact that supported housing can have on so many lives.

Independent Living

Our 8 Independent Living schemes offer safe and secure housing to residents over 55 or with disabilities , the accommodation offers self-contained homes with modern communal lounges and kitchens on site providing opportunities for a wide range of activities and events to support health and well-being. Becky Evans, Independent Living Manager added “Our schemes offer a great option for those who want to live independently but need to access support and social events. Our schemes offer a range of services that help to combat social isolation and although the lockdown period was very difficult for our residents our staff kept in regular contact and provided practical support where it was needed, even if it was just for a quick catch up.”

Jennifer’s Story

Jennifer* is bedbound, incontinent and suffers from mental health issues but despite this she has been determined to remain independent, living in one of our schemes. Our on site Independent Living Officer made a safeguarding referral when they discovered the issues that Jennifer had been quietly suffering and this led to  an assessment that noted she should have a carer visit twice a day. Recently our Independent Living Officer found out that the first visit was being made around midday so they spoke to the organisation and arranged for visits to be earlier in the day to enable Jennifer to live more comfortably. The Independent Living Officer now makes daily calls to Jennifer to check she is okay and to combat her isolation. Without living in an independent living scheme, its likely this wouldn’t have been picked up and Jennifer would still be struggling to live independently.

*name changed for anonymity

Mr P’s Story

“My PIP had been stopped in 2019 and I needed to gather evidence to prove that I still needed it. During 2020 Independent Living Officer Debbie went above and beyond her role. She gathered all the evidence, sent emails, set up telephone appointments and thanks to Debbie and all her hard work I got my award of PIP and got it all backdated too. I have now got a new mobility scooter to help me get around.”

Keep Fit Session with GCH Residents at Badger Vale Court
Keep Fit Session with Residents at Badger Vale Court

Homeless Accommodation

In 2020 we were the first organisation to claim a Government grant totalling £1.7million as part of the Next Steps Accommodation Programme (NSAP) to provide 37 safe units of accommodation to help prevent previous rough sleepers who had come into city centre hotels during the Governments ‘Everyone in’ campaign at the start of the pandemic from returning to the streets. The grant has allowed 13 new units of accommodation to be offered with a further 24 becoming available next month. Anita Pope, Director of Housing and Communities added “The new homeless accommodation enables rough sleepers and those finding themselves homeless to have the best start to get their lives back on track recognising that a safe and secure home is where this begins, as the Pandemic has highlighted to us all.”

Alex’s Story

Alex* has lived in England for the past 12 years after moving from South Africa. Following a tough life in South Africa, Alex struggled with alcohol and drug dependency, had been shot multiple times and suffers with numerous physical health problems including peripheral neuropathy and a heart condition. He was diagnosed with PTSD and had spent time in an acute mental health hospital following an attempted overdose. When he moved to Gloucester he lived in a general needs property but felt very isolated, angry and struggled with his mental health. Although Alex had been clean from drugs for 8 years, alcohol led towards an offence in 2019 which saw him serve 10 months in prison. Upon his release in 2020 Alex found himself homeless as his options to housing were limited due to his offences and so he was referred to one of our Homeless hostels.

Since being with GCH Alex has done everything possible to leave the past behind him and move forward positively. With their support staff have seen Alex change from being very withdrawn, isolated and distrusting of others to being much more confident and open. Over the past 7 months he has really opened up, regularly discussing his wellbeing and concerns with our staff and support networks. Our staff have supported Alex to claim the benefits he is entitled to, assisted with foodbank parcels, and calls to his GP. One of the key areas he needed support was around access to benefits and he has now received a backdated amount of PIP which has allowed him to improve his financial situation, pay off former arrears and start looking for a permanent home.

Alex has worked hard and the support of our staff has enabled him to make these positive steps and think about his future. Alex says that he is in the best place he has been for a very long time, feeling strong and capable of making it on his own.

This story shows why supported housing is so important and the impact it can have on lives and this is why we support the Homes at The Heart campaign.

*name changed for anonymity

MP Richard Graham on site at new Homeless Accommodation Olympus House, holding a ‘Starts at Home’ Sign in Support of the Campaign
MP Richard Graham on site at new Homeless Accommodation Olympus House, holding a ‘Starts at Home’ Sign in Support of the Campaign

Our local MP Richard Graham supports this campaign and the positive impact that supported living has on many lives in our City and surrounding areas. Richard visited one of our new homeless schemes and said “It was great to see first hand the building being converted into housing for the homeless, part of GCH’s 37 units which are already making a real difference in our City.”

Occupational Therapy Service

For all of our residents we offer an in-house Occupational Therapy service which allows us to make adaptations to enable our tenants to remain independent at home. Laura Carroll, GCH’s Occupational Therapist says “Often small barriers can make living in our homes difficult for tenants with disabilities, therefore my job is to recommend and implement adaptations that can make a huge difference to our tenants and allow them to maintain independence in the longer-term. It is really rewarding to see the difference that adaptations can make to peoples wellbeing and daily lives.” Since April 2021, we have spent over £150k on aids and adaptations to help residents continue living independently.

Recent comment from a customer who has had a level access shower installed: “It’s absolutely wonderful to be able to have a shower again safely and on my own. It’s given me back my independence and is going to make a really big difference for me, I’m really grateful.” Customer in Tuffley.

Starts at Home testimonial
Starts at Home testimonial