Last Augustwe met Flipz*, a care leaver who was staying with family and in the process of being evicted from his temporary accommodation in Bexley. When Carly began supporting him, the main aim was to find a long term lease in Greenwich, closer to his network of family and friends. 

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Block of flats

One time I was on the streets for over two years, waking up in doorways and selling drugs to get by. This time I stayed on the streets for a few nights, but I did what I needed to survive. That’s what block life is about, survival. It’s a risky game."

When I met Carly, Flipz told us, I was actually in a dark place. I had lost the 2 bedroom house I was staying because the landlord wanted to sell the property and wanted me out.”

His eviction notice was issued in mid-July, in the midst of Covid-19 lockdowns. He had trouble applying for housing benefits, so the payments fell out of place and his arrears were rising 

Flipz has a social worker who was supporting him at the time but after the Council labelled him intentionally homeless, he didn’t have anywhere to go. “They discharged their duty of me, they refused to house me. I was homeless for a short time – but its not the first time social services has left me homeless. One time I was on the streets for over two years, waking up in doorways and selling drugs to get by. This time I stayed on the streets for a few nights, but I did what I needed to survive. That’s what block life is about, survival. It’s a risky game. 

When Carly began supporting him, the main goal was to find a long term lease in Greenwich, closer to his network of family and friends. It needed to be as soon as possible, so that he could take his possessions from his old accommodation to a new flat, before the locks were changed and he didn’t have access to them. Carly connected to his social worker, work coach and Bexley’s private sector letting’s team to develop an integrated plan to support him into a new home. They also made sure his mental health was taken care of, and that his application for Universal Credit was put through and housing benefit set up. 

After a number of viewings, Flipz and Carly saw a flat in Greenwich that would suit him. He says it wasn’t an easy process but it worked out in the end: “At first it felt like the landlords were trying to mug us off – they’d tell us about the property but then we’d get there and it would be nothing like they’d said”.  But they kept searching and found a one bed property which he was able to move into in early November. 

caret-down caret-up caret-left caret-right

Carly, James and Sandra been really helpful. Since Kineara have been involved, they’ve been a lot of help. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be where I am now. So its frustrating and annoying that they won’t be working with me any longer.

“I’ve had people tie me up and point a gun in my face, and I’ve done it too so I’ve experienced both sides. If they reach out there will be someone who can relate, and can tell them, Bro, I’ve lived that there is another way forward.

It was a relief to move in, he said, but it is taking time to get things sorted in the property. “I only met the landlord once when I signed the tenancy, and I haven’t seen him since. He eventually arranged to repair issues with the pipes in my bathroom – there was a blockage and a horrendous and strong smell of fungus coming from the bathroom and an infestation of flies coming up through the drains. It was supposedly fixed but the guys who came did a bad job and the smell and flies are still there. I know I have to – and want to – take care of the house and be responsible but how can they expect me to care for the property when they are not doing their bit?”

We asked Flipz how he felt now that he was back in a house of his own. “Well, Greenwich is bless place, a better area than where I was. Its more towards the city and central London not far from here. I’m hoping now to get back into construction or warehouse work, which I was doing before the pandemic.”

“So I feel ok, apart from the fact that Carly’s and James’ work with me is being closed down. They have helped me to get to where I am, and now I feel I am being left in the lurch. I’m gutted and pissed off about that. They did a lot for me. But I know what I need to do, I’ve just got to keep going.”

Flipz experience shows how important consistent support really is for those young people who rely on social services.

Carly, James and Sandra been really helpful. About a month before Carly got involved with me I lost another support worker, which was hard. Since Kineara have been involved, they’ve been a lot of help. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be where I am now. So its frustrating and annoying that they won’t be working with me any longer.” 

As a young care leaver, with experience of the criminal justice system and unstable housing, Flipz wants other young people to know the value of reaching out for help: “For young people that are out there going through things right now and struggling, it might sound stupid but if they reach out to a youth worker or a carer, or leader of some type, it will benefit them in the long run. I’ve had people tie me up and point a gun in my face, and I’ve done it too so I’ve experienced both sides. If they reach out there will be someone who can relate, and can tell them, Bro, I’ve lived that there is another way forward.  

He continued: “All Councils – Bexley, Greenwich, all of them – they need companies like Kineara and people like Carly, James and SandraFor those young people who don’t have families to support them, they can chat to a support worker or a youth worker. Social services are scary to young people, so you need services like Kineara’s to talk to and support you.” 

*Names have been changed to protect identity