Mike, 56 had worked all his life after leaving school at 16 and lived in rented house in Drayton. Last year he was made redundant and struggled to find another job. He had lived in his house for nearly twenty years and his landlord was sympathetic to his situation. However, as time went on, Mike’s rent arrears built up to £2,000 and he was evicted from his home.
Mike had gathered a few belongings before he left, including some clothes and bedding. He had nowhere to go, and, after wandering through the city for many hours, he bedded down for the night on Castle Meadow. He said, “That first night was terrifying. I was shocked that this had happened to me. The shock of becoming homeless was the biggest thing for me – not the cold, the dark or not knowing who else is around – it was that this had happened to me.”
The point at which Mike started sleeping rough was when he became alcohol dependent. He said “I’ve always enjoyed a drink, but before, I could take it or leave it. It’s amazing how quickly things get out of control. A few cans helped block out what was going on.”
The Pathways team first spoke to Mike during an early morning street count and he was given a voucher so he could get a cooked breakfast from the Arc, The Salvation Army’s drop-in centre at Pottergate. The Pathways team followed up with Mike at the Arc and that night he was allocated a bed at the Sit up Service, which offers short term emergency accommodation in a shared room at Bishopbridge House. The following day he moved into his own room at the hostel. While living in the hostel, Mike accessed medical services at City Reach for a long term health condition that he had neglected due to the anxiety he had felt over his housing situation.
Mike was capable of living independently, so within two weeks, he was moved into a shared house in the community and his intention was to regain a tenancy of his own. By now, Mike’s drinking was under control, however, he was hindered by his former rent arrears.
Mike was willing to set up a repayment plan for his debts but the relationship had broken down with his former landlord and this had become a barrier to being accepted by Home Options, Norwich City Council’s scheme for people to access social housing.
The Pathways resettlement worker managed to make contact with Mike’s landlord and the debt was written off. Mike has completed a tenancy awareness course, and, once he has further evidence that he is engaging positively with support agencies, he can bid for a property. Mike became a vendor of the Big Issue which gave him routine in his life and he has a secure place in a shared house until he is able to move into his own tenancy.
He said, “Without Pathways, it would have been a lot worse. They sorted me out quickly and I can see a future for myself.”