Phillip’s story

"There are lots of people like me who were working, minding our own business and circumstances out of our control meant we became homeless."

Lockdown changed everything for Phillip. He lost his job, his home and found out he had a serious medical condition. The situation saw his mental health hit an all-time low. The staff at Hightown Housing Association’s homeless services have helped him turn things around and feel safe and settled. 

Phillip was working and living in Hemel Hempstead when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. He found himself in a position that many others found themselves in too. He was employed as a contractor and didn’t get the option of being furloughed. So when lockdown started his employment ended and his income disappeared. His private landlord wouldn’t accept housing benefit payments so he found himself without a home. 

Phillip was grateful to family and friends who let him stay on their sofas but this wasn’t a long-term solution and he found himself at Open Door in St Albans during the initial lockdown. With the restrictions at the time, Phillip had to spend almost the entire day in his room and this started to effect his mental health. He decided to put all his effort into submitting a housing application to Dacorum Borough Council so he could move into somewhere that was more suitable.

Added to this, Phillip received a life-changing diagnosis from doctors in November 2019 telling him he had a heart condition, making it impossible to go back to the job he had been doing. 

Following his application and a short stay at an emergency night shelter, Phillip was offered the chance to move into temporary homeless supported accommodation in Hemel Hempstead, a new Hightown service which started in April 2021. 

“I’m a new generation of homeless. There are lots of people like me who were working away, minding their own business and just circumstances out of their control meant they became homeless.”

Staff at Queensway have helped Phillip with his Universal Credit application, which he admits he found difficult to navigate since he’d never before applied for benefits. He was surprised at the amount of paperwork involved and the level of detail needed. 

When asked what he would say to someone coming into the Queensway service for the first time Phillip said, “Embrace the services of a well-oiled machine, let the professionals help you. They know better than your friends. Don’t be shy, this isn’t the first time they’ve heard about problems. They will be able to help you.”

Help raise awareness

Thousands of people have gained their independence through supported housing. The Starts at Home campaign aims to ensure that people who need extra support will always have a home that meets their needs.

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