Before we met her in June, Debbie had spent two years living on the streets, sofa surfing and riding night buses as far as she could to keep warm and sleep. When she was given temporary accommodation by Bexley Council during the Covid lockdowns, her daughter helped her reach out to us to support her into a long term home.

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“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Carly" said Debbie.

Temporary accommodation wasn’t easy either, being isolated and unable to go out to visit friends. When Carly began working with her Debbie also had some arrears from a previous landlord, and wasn’t on the social housing register bidding for properties. Carly supported Debbie to with Income Recovery teams to arrange repayments and make sure they were manageable, as well as getting her a bidding number for social housing and applied to Homechoice.

As well as providing an important listening ear for Debbie, Carly was also able to support her as she struggled with alcohol, something that Debbie is doing her best to manage herself. “There is a project for drinkers that people were telling me to go to and I said I would go if that’s what it takes, but I knew It wouldn’t be a good because I would see people I knew before, and Carly understood that. She never forced me.”

Meanwhile, Carly sought out a flat for Debbie in the private sector that met the needs she raised with us – accessible, because of her health, and on a bus route so that she would be able to see her family in Bexley. “She really took everything into consideration for me”, for example making sure her first floor flat had hand rails so she could get up the stairs easily. Carly and James supported Debbie to prepare everything she needed for the lease and moving in, and with the help of her daughter and a man with a van, Debbie was finally moving into a place of her own. “Carly came with household cleaners, and hand wash, shower gel, you know, just a few things like that. It was really thoughtful. James was running around all over the place, picking up furniture and helping to put it together. They have gone really out of their way.” Carly also successfully applied for a grant from Wavelength to get her a TV, which Debbie really appreciated.

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She has been there for me 100% and I really sad now that she is going. Carly is like a mate – and a clever one. I can talk to her about anything and she never looks at me badly. She always reassures me.

“I don’t know what I would have done without her." said Debbie.

Now that she is settling into a new home of her own, Debbie is relieved but still worries about the future. “I feel good to be in a home, a permanent place. But I feel scared too, because there are still things that need sorting out; I’m scared to out for a cigarette in case I lock myself out so I feel a bit confined.” Debbie is yet to meet a housing support officer, and has not had heating in the flat since she moved in. “Last night I put on the hobs to take the chill off coz I was so cold, and it set the smoke alarms off after 10 minutes”.

What’s more, her benefits switched over to Universal credit and there is a delay in the payment. Carly arranged to get it backdated cover her until December, paid directly to the landlord and increased her income by over £250.

It will still be very tight though, especially when the winter properly sets in. “I don’t know what I’m going to do when I start paying for the heating, I already pay around £30 for electric and I’m going to have to be careful how I spend until December”.

Now that our support is winding down, Carly and James will be handing over to her housing officer and support workers so she can sustain her tenancy. “I don’t know what I would have done without her. She has been there for me 100% and I really sad now that she is going. Carly is like a mate – and a clever one. I can talk to her about anything and she never looks at me badly. She always reassures me.

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