This week we’re sharing the story of 38-year-old George*, a customer that we’re supporting through the Changing Futures project.
Changing Futures is a joint initiative by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and the National Lottery Community Fund.
The project brings local organisations together from across Stoke-on-Trent to better support people with complex needs and multiple disadvantages. This includes homelessness, substance misuse, poor mental health and domestic abuse.
We’re proud to be part of the Changing Futures project in Stoke-on-Trent alongside other organisations, such as Expert Citizens and Glow.
Our Changing Futures Case Co-ordinator Charlotte works with men across the city as part of the project. She offers support and advice, working alongside other organisations to deliver the best possible outcomes. She’s been supporting George since September last year.
George is a vulnerable man with learning difficulties, who was independently managing his own Stoke-on-Trent City Council tenancy until last year. He was referred to Changing Futures following a section 42 safeguarding assessment due to concerns for his wellbeing.
We sat down with Charlotte to learn more about George’s story.
Charlotte said: “About three years ago George was introduced to monkey dust. He had no history of substance misuse and quickly became addicted. He stopped looking after himself, rarely showered and barely ate. This prompted concerns of self-neglect.
“Alongside this, George was being coerced by drug dealers. They took advantage of his vulnerabilities and used his flat as their own. They followed him home and wouldn’t leave. This caused disruption which led to his neighbours complaining.
“When he received his weekly benefit payments, they’d follow him to the cashpoint and leave him with just £50 a week for all of his bills and food. He struggled financially and would have to beg and borrow from others, including his friends and family. This put a strain on relationships and caused them to break down. He was alone.”
As soon as Charlotte met George, she supported him to leave his flat, as it was no longer safe, and secured him a room at a local hotel. From there, she found new housing for him with a local provider. Here he receives lots of support with everything from cooking and cleaning to budgeting and managing finances.
George also started working with CDAS (Stoke-on-Trent Drug and Alcohol Service) to address drug addiction. He worked on coping mechanisms and learned how to say no.
Charlotte continued: “George now has some really good peer support in place. He loves attending Expert Citizens coffee mornings and meeting new people. He’s making new friends and really putting himself out there. He was taken advantage of before, so I’m working with him to recognise when this could happen again. He’s also rebuilding relationships with his siblings.
“George has also been offered a voluntary role with Expert Citizens which he’s absolutely over the moon about. He’ll receive training on customer service, effective communication and learn how to build a good rapport with people. He’ll also be taking a course to improve his literacy and can’t wait to get started.
“His biggest goal is to support others going through similar situations to what he went through. He wants to help them and show them that the road to recovery isn’t scary – there’s always hope.
“George is now well on the road to recovery and is enjoying all of the opportunities that Changing Futures have given him.
“The programme has been fantastic for George. The partnership working of CDAS, Expert Citizens, George’s social worker and more have been outstanding. George is now settled and looking forward to the future.”
*name changed and stock image used to protect customer’s identity