“I’ve never had my own place before; I’ve been in and out of prison for 28 years. I’m now five months out, having been offered my own flat, I’m clean and I’ve been in no trouble.
“I’d just come out of prison, homeless, when I first came to The Bridge. The Council had offered me a hostel, but I wanted to find a place of my own so that I could stay away and out of trouble, especially with my mental health issues.
“I was given an appointment with a Housing Advisor, who supported me because she recognised my mental health problems and didn’t want to put me in an environment that would have put me at higher risk.
“It was hard for me to explain all of my issues in a twenty minute housing interview, so having my Advisor there to support me really changed things. She knew I was vulnerable, did the research and never stopped pushing.”
Neil was offered a temporary room in the Cedar’s Hotel while his Advisor continued to liaise with Charnwood Borough Council for something more permanent, providing Neil with advocacy and assistance.
“While I was in the hotel I would come by every day to speak to Reception too. They’d always chat to me and gave me food parcels when I needed them. It was great knowing there was somewhere I could go to talk, after years of being isolated in prison.
“My Advisor kept pushing and eventually I was offered my own flat. It must have been magic because after a week I was offered it permanently. Finally, everything started to fit in. The flat was matched to me and everybody at The Bridge was behind me.
“That’s all I needed really. There are a lot of people I know that want to change, in their brain, but it all needs to fit in. I needed the right opportunity so that I could be different. I’ve always wanted somewhere to be on my own, I was just forced to be with others.”
“Without the flat I’m in now, I would definitely be in the cycle of prison and the streets again, because I was just surviving. That’s how it was for 28 years. It’s dangerous too, I probably got beaten up ten times while sleeping rough.”
“My Advisor still contacted me once I had moved into my flat, to make sure I was ok. I feel a lot better now.
“I’m still trying to work out what I like, what I enjoy and what the future is. I can think about all of that now. I’ll never lose that flat because of how I feel about it: having my own space finally. I do the garden and the cleaning.”
“I feel like I will be staying out of prison now. It was very difficult to change from prison life to normal life, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without all the help I received.
Now, Neil hopes that in a few years, he will be able to volunteer at an organisation to help others.
“I’d love to give something back. It’s different for people to talk to others who have actually been through it all.”Back To Case Studies