“If it weren’t for you guys I would be either dead or living in my car.”
In fact, Kirk slept in his car for three nights before he received support from St Martins and was given accommodation.
His relationship had broken down and he and his partner separated, although they had to live in the same house for a while. Kirk’s partner did a house exchange with the council and moved, leaving him homeless.
Kirk immediately got in touch with the council and waited to speak to someone. Meanwhile, he saw a member of the Pathways team and was sent to the Arc – a drop in for people experiencing homelessness run by the Salvation Army on Pottergate. Kirk was welcomed and was given a coffee and something to eat and the opportunity to chat with the Pathways team.
Kirk was given temporary accommodation in a flat at Barnard’s Yard in Norwich. Kirk stayed there for a month, and was put in touch with Kim, a St Martins support worker who helps people move on from services into their own places. Kirk was fortunate to be given a council property as is he is over 50.
Kim’s support made a big difference to Kirk. He said, “I have needed it, definitely. There have been a lot of hurdles, a lot of letters. It’s a minefield. Just that alone causes a lot of stress. What’s made the difference is someone there to say ‘it’s going to be alright. We can get through this.’”
Kirk is now decorating his property, and Kim is helping him access grants that he never knew existed, such as the Norfolk Assistance Fund, which enabled him to get white goods such as a fridge, freezer, oven and microwave. He said “without them it would have been tougher”. He also received a cost of living voucher so he could pick the food he needed, and Kim went shopping with him. Kirk said, “Kim’s fantastic – like an extra mum!”
Five years ago two discs moved in Kirk’s back and he is waiting for an operation, then plans to return to full time work. Meanwhile he has done some volunteering with local homeless charity The Feed. He said, “I’m looking forward to the future; getting my back sorted and getting a proper job.”
Kim’s support is possible thanks to a community grant of £50,000 awarded by Nationwide for the project. Kim’s support is vital in ensuring people are well supported when they move on from homeless services into a place of their own. As Kirk found, there are utilities to set up and paperwork to navigate, which can be challenging when a person is emerging from the overwhelming experience of homelessness. The Nationwide grant gives the people St Martins supports a greater chance of maintaining their tenancies and living the lives they want to lead.
Kim now touches base with Kirk just once a month, which frees up her time to support people who are earlier in their journey out of homelessness.