Beacon: Eviction after stroke rehab

When Nick* returned to his privately rented home in Leeds after a year in an out-of-town rehabilitation centre recovering from multiple strokes, he found the locks changed and his belongings removed.

Aged 50+ with ongoing health issues and no family support network, he was suddenly homeless. He sofa surfed at a friend’s but after a short time the friendship broke down and he was asked to leave.

With nowhere else to go, Nick presented as homeless at Leeds Housing Options, was placed in a hotel and referred to Beacon. After assessment he was accepted by Touchstone, one of the three charity partners involved in the Beacon service, and assigned to Support Worker Georgia.

“Nick came to Beacon with hardly any personal possessions. A cannabis user, he hadn’t taken his prescribed medication for several months, didn’t have a GP, had problems seeing and walking and was generally in poor physical health. Mentally he felt ‘low’ and was talking of ‘not being here’,” recalled Georgia.

Getting to know Nick wasn’t easy. He found it hard focusing and dealing with direct questions formally but if engaged in an activity, he would chat away about himself.

While doing a jigsaw, playing on the Wii, or building Lego, Georgia found out what she needed to put together Support and Safety Plans. These led to professional sight, foot, and dental care plus a medical diagnosis of COPD and severe emphysema. He was also helped to sort out his finances, claiming the correct benefits and opening a bank account, learned how to use a smartphone and set up an email address.

“The more I found out from Nick it was clear he was a vulnerable adult who had been targeted previously and was a victim of financial abuse and cuckooing,” explained Georgia.

“It was important to try to stop this happening again. We talked about the risks involved in sharing too much about himself with people he doesn’t know and looked at various ways to keep safe.”

With Georgia’s help Nick bid weekly for tenancies and eventually secured a flat with Leeds City Council in his ideal location. Support from the welfare scheme provided him with white goods while Freecycle yielded a slow cooker, tv and toastie maker for free.

“When Nick moved in, he was so motivated for change that he decorated his flat, arranged for some carpet and together we went to Emmaus to shop for items to make the flat more homely,” said Georgia who supported Nick for about a year.

“On my last visit Nick was anxious about the future without ongoing support but was so proud of how far he’d come. The jigsaw we’d done was on display and he was still using the calendar we’d set up to manage his daily routines and appointments.

“He is receiving ongoing support from Engage Leeds and five months on, is continuing to do well in his new home.”

* Not his real name

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