“It’s a wonderful experience to have somewhere to call home. I haven’t had that for more than six years.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Peter lived on the streets of Liverpool, sleeping rough and occasionally in shelters.
Like many homeless people, he was brought into emergency accommodation in April 2020 under the Government’s Everyone In initiative to protect rough sleepers from the coronavirus.
In March 2021, he became the first person to move into a new property created by social housing provider The Riverside Group as part of the Next Steps Accommodation Programme (NSAP).
NSAP is a Government scheme designed to build on the positive effects of Everybody In by providing local authorities and housing associations with funding to create quality homes and support people experiencing homelessness.
In partnership with Liverpool City Council, Riverside received £125,000 from NSAP to repurpose ten terraced houses in the city, turning them into one bed homes where residents who’d experienced homelessness could feel safe, settled and start to think about building a new life.
Each house has been refurbished to new build standard, with the bathroom moved upstairs to increase internal space, new kitchens fitted and furniture and white goods provided to help create homes the residents can be proud of.
More than just a place to live, these homes provide psychological reassurance to residents, helping them to engage with support and begin a new chapter in their lives.
Of the ten residents who’ve moved into the homes since March, one has already made a housing application with Riverside to move into a two bedroom home and is applying for custody of their daughter.
Another had experienced service domestic violence, exploitation and sexual violence during a stay in hostel accommodation. Taking up a property with Riverside has given her her own front door and a home where she’s been able to recover from substance abuse and domestic violence and engage with a wide network of support.
One of the residents has enrolled on a course to improve their English language skills and is hoping to attend university.
Following a long time in prison, another is adapting to mainstream living and giving advice to ex-offender groups and about integrating into the community.
And for others, being allowed to bring their pets into their homes made them feel more secure and enabled them to engage successfully with the support services Riverside offers.
And what about Peter?
Support from Riverside has helped him address issues with alcohol and he’s working alongside a number of agencies to get him back into employment.
“I’m really happy. I have recently passed my security qualification which means I can now start looking for work as well. But for now I’m settling into my new home, which is something I’ve been missing for a very long time.”