Ron* left his last accommodation in a shared house after being kept awake by noisy tenants who regularly asked him for money. He had nowhere to go, so he had to sleep rough. When we first met him he had been sleeping under a bridge for 18 months. He said he’d had enough of the hassle of living indoors, but as he spoke, it became obvious that he’d had enough of living on the streets.
Ron soon realised that he couldn’t get anywhere without money, but was reluctant to rely on what he felt was a handout. In time he started a benefits claim. Since he’d paid tax for most of his life, he felt he could justify taking a small amount back when he was most in need. Ron and I met the next day and found a studio flat which he moved into a few weeks later.
Moving from the streets into accommodation is stressful. Part of my job was to make sure that Ron settled after spending so long on the streets. I visited him a few days after he moved in. The place was spotless and he’d already started to make it look like a home. He still needed a few items. I told him we could apply for a Borderline grant, pulled forms from my bag and started to fill them in. While I was scribbling, I noticed he seemed a little uneasy. When prompted he told me:
“I’d rather pay for things myself. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m not sure it would really feel like my place if someone else bought my things for me.”
I was embarrassed that I’d made the assumption that Ron would want to accept money to pay for these things. By refusing my offer to get some financial help, Ron showed that not only he had thought about what he needed to do to make his new flat feel like his own, but that he willingly accepted the responsibility to do it himself. Any worries I had about his ability to manage his own flat have gone.”
* Ron’s name has been changed to protect his privacy.