Ann was referred to our service when bailiffs called at her house because of an outstanding Council Tax debt. She was working part time, struggling to pay for basics and not making any payments on debts which totalled over £5,000.
We provided support by:
Reducing her electricity costs.
Putting in place a realistic household budget.
Negotiating reduced repayments on an outstanding water bill.
Putting in a benefits appeal which resulted in a large back payment of Housing Benefit and Council Tax.
Applying to a charitable fund which agreed to pay a sum of money towards her utility bills for one year.
Applying for a debt relief order (a form of insolvency) which, subject to acceptance, will mean that Ann's remaining debts will be written off after one year.
Tiffany is 18 years old and has spent a period of time in care and has experience of being homeless. She was referred to the Alliance Homes ‘Step Up’ project.
‘Step Up’ has four properties provided by Alliance Homes and gives young care leavers 6 months experience of living in their own property. Tiffany was provided with support to access housing benefits, work benefits, furniture, budgeting, meal planning, shopping, cooking and training and employment.
Tiffany is keen to get a job in care and support to give something back and support others. Her support worker suggested she use her own life experiences and become a volunteer to support others and help her with future job applications.
After a successful interview Tiffany is looking forward to becoming a peer mentor and is also considering a career as a home care worker with Alliance Living Care.
When you live with a disability or special needs, it can sometimes feel harder to get work experience or secure a long term career. Though for Ben from Portishead, who lives with Asperger’s Syndrome, the future now looks more promising.
Having completed a work experience placement with Alliance Homes’ IT department, Ben was offered further paid employment as an IT trainee - with funding from the charity Pluss and Alliance Homes.
Sophia is a 21 year old care leaver from Clevedon who found an apprenticeship after taking part in the Team North Somerset programme. Every person taking part is matched with a job coach to tailor support towards individual needs. The programme also focuses on building strong relationships with employers.
Sophia said of the support she experienced: “Team North Somerset really listened to me and helped remove barriers that have previously prevented me from starting my career. It is great to be working and learning at the same time.”
Team North Somerset provides support for care leavers, people experiencing poor mental health or with learning disabilities, young people not in employment, education or training, and vulnerable families. The organisations involved are Alliance Homes, North Somerset Council, Weston College One True Step, Somerset Wood Recycling, Knightstone Housing and Job Centre Plus.
Zoe was referred to Alliance support services by the Women’s Refuge and was supported into moving into her own flat with her daughter, Toyah. When Zoe and her support worker first met, Zoe was living in her bare flat with concrete floors. She had moved to an area where she knew no-one and was feeling isolated.
Following support, Zoe went to study an NVQ course at Weston College, made new friends and has re-established a relationship with her mum who has visited her in her new home. Supporting Zoe to renegotiate debts to more manageable levels, meant that money was freed up for her to decorate the flat and buy second hand furniture. Charitable funding for flooring and a cooker plus the donation of a fridge has transformed the flat into a modern and comfortable home for Zoe and her daughter. In just a year Zoe’s life moved on positively and she is now looking forward to the future.
This is what Zoe had to say about the support she received. “It was excellent and I could not have managed without the help.”
“Due to the chaotic lifestyle I was leading I was finding life very daunting and felt as though I was constantly underachieving.
The shame and guilt of being trapped in this lifestyle became unbearable and this left me feeling depressed and isolated.
I reached a point where I was determined to better myself but found this hard. I had neglected so many areas of my life for so long that just getting things organised again and moving forward felt overwhelming.
After receiving support from Alliance I feel that I have really started to get my life back on track. I’ve found my support workers Kristal and Charlotte to be very supportive and non-judgemental, this was very important to me as my self-esteem was very low.
They’ve helped me to prioritise, set goals and to start getting things done one-by-one. I’ve received support in all areas of my life and this has given me the confidence to take responsibility and start living a more constructive lifestyle.
I’m now at college, I feel happy and content and I am full of hope for the future.”
Janine wanted to share her volunteering experience to show how it is helping her and others.
“Through my support worker Jacky, I joined a computer course for beginners. I completed the course and gained a certificate, this gave me more confidence as well as meeting new friends. I noticed on the board that they wanted volunteers to help with other classes so I took it upon myself to ask someone who works at the Carlton Centre about volunteering.
I was asked to stay on as I had done the beginners course and I agreed. I am now on the second course and helping the new beginners. I am glad that I said yes as I am gaining more confidence and after a couple of weeks I really enjoy being a volunteer.”
“My name is Jade. Before I moved into the Alliance flat I was very against it, I wanted to stay being looked after in my foster care placement but as I turned 18 that was not possible. I was very worried about living independently; I was scared of being alone and having to be responsible for paying bills and living on a tight budget.
Kristal and Helen from the Support Team came to visit me and explained more about the trainer flat. Although I was apprehensive about it, I was excited too. Kristal spent time teaching me everything from cooking to cleaning, menu planning, tenancy agreements, shopping and budgeting. She also helped me with any issues I had around my health, college and job opportunities. I didn’t think I would be able to manage living on my own but with the help I have had I am now towards the end of my time in the trainer flat and I feel ready to move on.
My advice to anyone considering the trainer flat is to go for it, things will be tough in the beginning but it’s a great opportunity and your support worker is always there to help you.”
Recently Charlie got in touch with us as he wanted to share his story.
“Due to an illegal eviction my partner and I found ourselves homeless with all of our possessions gone in a matter of a few hours. Consequently I was forced to live rough. From what I had been told I was prepared for a long wait, but thanks to the brilliant work of my support worker I was housed within 6 weeks. Despite having a property I had no belongings and due to the stress of the situation my girlfriend left me.
Despite coming from a management background I felt unable to function in the normal way - I was on the ropes and thought I was about to go down for good!
I was referred to the support teamwho sent someone round in a couple of days to assess my situation. Within 30 minutes of the assessment Kristal and Naomi turned up with blankets, bedding, cutlery and plates; a small gesture that meant a lot to me in my empty house. At that moment I felt there was someone out there who did care.
Kristal then went on to be my support worker, she supported and encouraged me to take control of my life again. Thanks to Kristal’s advice, assistance and guidance I am now back on my feet.
There is not enough praise I can give to the Support Team. I believe that if they weren’t there, I would have suffered with severe depression and may not be here today. Instead I am now very positive about my future.