"A future he never thought he would have"
It was December. "Ben" was homeless, living on the streets. He had been in and out of prison and didn't want to go back. He was struggling with poor mental health. He wanted a different life. However, he was well known by local housing providers for his destructive behaviour and finding somewhere to live was proving to be impossible. Without a safe place to live, it was hard for Ben to access and engage with the support services he needed. His future was looking bleak.
Since Out4Good launched, the team has worked with over 200 young adults with a history of offending, helping them to build a different kind of future. Time after time after time, as we listen to their stories, we hear about the abuse, neglect or trauma they experienced in childhood. So often, it is their attempts to block out or escape these things that led them the first few steps down a path to anti-social or offending behaviour. As Ben knew, a decision to live differently does not change things overnight. There are still challenging obstacles to overcome.
One of Ben and Julie's cooking sessions
In December 2017, Ben's probation worker referred him to Out4Good and he started working with Julie several times a week. Some sessions were for mentoring, giving Ben the opportunity to talk, then to set himself goals and plan how he would work towards them. Sometimes he and Julie cooked together to help him develop some of the life skills he would need when he had his own home. They spent some of their sessions working through an anger management programme. Outside these formal sessions, Julie gave Ben intensive support, keeping in touch with him during the week, being available on the end of the phone and reminding him about appointments he needed to attend (such as with the probation team).
"I learnt that when I feel angry and feel like I'm gonna switch I just count from 1 to 10, take deep breaths, close my eyes and think about what makes me happy... I don't know where I'd be today if it wasn't for Julie."
Over time, Ben developed strategies to deal with his emotions, identified what relaxes him, motivated himself to attend his probation meetings and made positive changes in his behaviour. Julie had been advocating on Ben’s behalf with the local supported housing providers and, following a successful interview, Ben was offered accommodation.
"Julie began working with Ben many months ago and through her intensive support and passionate advocacy on his behalf she has achieved the impossible and secured this young man a bed at a supported housing scheme and finally got him a chance to prove that he has turned his life around... The service she provides, to our service users and many others, is unique in that there is no other service who can offer the same support."
Claire, Ben's probation worker
Julie supported Ben through the transition from living on the streets, to help him build and maintain a positive relationship with his housing provider. Ben has now been living in his new home for several months and continues working, with Julie's support, to build the life he wants to live.
"Ben’s journey has had many highs and lows, but it has been a privilege to journey with him and support him to where he is now. The council, probation, other agencies in Colchester and Ben himself cannot believe that he has been housed and how he has turned his life around. He now has a future he never thought he would have."
Julie Ellis, Colchester Worth Unlimited (Out4Good)
All over the country, our teams work with young people, who like Ben, want to live their lives as fully as they can and need a helping hand to remove the barriers in their way. Keep in touch with more stories like Ben's: click the link below to sign up to our newsletter.