This is the second in a series of Real Life Stories, accounts of BHT clients and the support provided by our services. Today, CJ from the Accommodation for Work Project:
CJ had always worked and lived in a house with his wife and their seven children. When the relationship broke down CJ had no place else to go and resorted to rough sleeping. He continued trying to sustain working, but it was difficult with no home. He worked in construction, and had always been able to support his family with this kind of work, but since the recession hit it was hard to find sustainable work. He accepted temporary jobs, but starting and stopping work made it difficult for him to save money.
CJ was found by the rough sleepers team and referred to a night shelter, but CJ only spent one night there as people behaved chaotically or were drunk and this made him uncomfortable. CJ used a First Base and from there he was referred to the Accommodation for Work Project. Upon moving in, CJ decided to explore different career options as well as continuing to look for construction work. His keyworker helped him revise his CV and referred him for careers advice.
CJ didn’t have an up to date CSCS card, which is a health and safety requirement on many construction sites. At the time, the Job Centre wasn’t funding these cards, so the project funded this for him.
CJ’s keyworker referred him to Business Action on Homelessness, which runs a two week work placement programme, so he could gain experience in a different field and get an up to date reference. CJ was placed with FareShare, a charity that seeks to alleviate food poverty in the community. They were so impressed with his work that they had him supervising other volunteers and said that he had progressed more in his two week placement than anyone in the previous six years. His placement was extended for another two weeks and when that ended he continued volunteering with them.
Following this he did a placement with Royal Mail. Again, he excelled at his placement and was offered paid work as a postman, which he happily accepted. It was hard physical work, but CJ was pleased to be working again and he also continued to volunteer in his spare time for FareShare.
However, being back at work still had its challenges. He was being taxed at the emergency rate and he wasn’t being paid for the correct amount of hours. His keyworker supported him to clear up these issues. She also helped him apply for working tax credits so he could maximise his income.
CJ is an active father and the project was able to support him to have his children visit at the house. He also saved his wages so he could take them on a short holiday to Butlins.
CJ had never had to look for a flat or approach a landlord before and was not confident with doing this. His keyworker showed him how to search for flats online and they practiced what he would say in an email or on the phone to a landlord. Soon he got his own flat and was living independently. He said that the project had been a ‘great help getting me back on my feet.’
The Accommodation4Work project provides temporary accommodation for local single men and women who are actively involved in work or learning activities and who are homeless. Active involvement in employment or learning is a requirement of the project. Support is provided to assist residents with accessing back to work schemes, training courses, voluntary work and placements, and into work benefits.