How long have you been working for YMCA Cheltenham?
I have been here just over 14 months now. I started in November 2021.
What do you enjoy most about working for YMCA Cheltenham?
Engaging with the residents every resident is different, with different stories about where they have come from and for me, it’s about finding out what they are about and how I can support them in their journey forward from here. Whether signposting them to mental health or substance misuse organisations or housing associations and getting them moved on.
In your experience, what are the main factors leading to homelessness?
When I was employed at the Emmaus organisation, I realised that getting someone housed was the easy part. It’s maintaining a tenancy and keeping a house that is difficult. How households are run concerning utilities and Council Tax is becoming digitised, which many people haven’t had a lot of experience with. They may have a fear of technology and anxiety over whether they have done it correctly. There are still analogue ways to do these things but they are becoming more and more difficult to access.
What would you say to people who are worried about homelessness?
You have got to talk to people. If it is your mortgage that you are worried about being able to pay, talk to organisations that can help. If you are renting, talk to your landlord. Be open and honest, that way you can access the help that is out there. Do not bury your head in the sand because that only goes one way and that is homelessness. If you talk to people, you may get the help you need; or be able to move to somewhere that is more affordable, or more suitable for your circumstances.
What do you find are the main factors behind residents moving on successfully?
It can be a struggle in this financial climate for people looking for privately rented accommodation. For people who have access to social housing, that is the most promising route for getting people housed independently because they will get support from the housing association and support from us at the YMCA to encourage that transition into independent living. What I think would be useful is if our organisation; or others like it can provide continued support, whilst they are in a new property, living independently. I would like our organisation and other organisation to make sure bills are being paid and there are no issues with self-neglect.
If you are moving to a new area where you don’t know people, it is a point of contact where you can talk to others. Communication is the biggest asset that we have as people to help each other.