The aim of Starts at Home is to help persuade the Government to ensure that every person who needs extra support has a home that meets their needs.

We support the campaign and recognise how supported housing helps turn lives around. Offering a place to live with specialist support can make a real difference to people who otherwise wouldn’t have anywhere to turn, like Paul.

Paul volunteers for Futures in Mind, an organisation that helps people with their mental health and other support needs in Essex. He’s aiming to use this experience to get a job supporting people to get back on their feet after being unwell. But this is a long way from where Paul found himself last year;

“I tried to commit suicide twice. I set out to really do it; I went on a long journey to the Lake District, and tried to do it by putting hose pipe into my car. I tried three times and failed and then called the Police to get help. I was taken to hospital where I spent three months.”

Paul first had suicidal thoughts and depression when he was 16 and these feelings stayed with him on and off into adulthood, eventually resulting in a diagnosis of split personality disorder and depression after being admitted to hospital following his suicide attempt.

After spending so long in hospital Paul was unable to pay his rent and was made homeless.  But shortly after being discharged he was called by Peabody and offered a place in Plowright House, a specialist mental health supported housing scheme in Essex. This helped turn things around for Paul;

“I feel in a better place than I was this time last year. I’m feeling more positively than I have in the last few years but I take each day as it comes. I don’t know what would have happened to me if I hadn’t moved in here. I might still be living in a bedsit with no support and I think that would have been dangerous as I was on my own. It could easily have triggered a return of those negative feelings.”

It took Paul a while to come out of his shell after moving in but staff continued to encourage him, helping improve his confidence and supporting him to go along to one of the Futures in Mind Welcome Cafes in the area.

Paul is now using his knowledge, including previous experience of working as a support worker and completing specialist training courses, to help others with similar issues;

“From that simple initial introduction it’s led to a great deal. It is good to give a little bit back. I’m now just waiting for my DBS so I can start working with other people.”

“I have the support from the staff here which helps a great deal. Just by staying at Plowright it’s opened my eyes to the possibilities of what I can do.”

For more information, please visit https://startsathome.org.uk/.