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After two years sleeping in doorways, Concrete customer Kyle is finally feeling ‘good about the future’

After two years sleeping in doorways, Concrete customer Kyle is finally feeling ‘good about the future’

At Concrete, we’re on a mission to make homelessness history in our local area.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Lily Gertrude, Simister Court in Tunstall was transformed into much needed supported accommodation, in a partnership between Concrete and Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Homelessness doesn’t have a type. Anyone could be affected, so that’s why we work hard to provide support for everyone in the community.

Currently we have 16 residents at Lily Gertrude, each with their own apartment, including a kitchen, bedroom and ensuite bathroom.  

There’s also communal facilities such as a shared kitchen, as well as a common room with TV, games and a tuck shop. There’s an enclosed garden outside for growing vegetables too. 

One resident is 37-year-old Kyle*, who has lived in Stoke-on-Trent his whole life.

Before moving into Lily Gertrude four months ago, he slept rough for two years in doorways in Hanley and Stoke.

“I was in care from the age of six to 15. Then I came back to my mum but that broke down,” said Kyle.

“I was in hostels for a bit, but they were full of ‘wrong ‘uns’.

“I’ve had a drug problem all my life, I was sniffing petrol at 13. I’ve been on heroin for 10 years. I’ve shoplifted to fund my habit.”

Kyle said he now ‘feels good about the future,’ thanks to the support from Concrete.

He added: “Since coming here I’m now on a Subutex script and I’m putting in for a referral to go to rehab. It’s sound here, there’s a lot of help.

“It’s helped me change and I’m getting there.”

Team Leader Natalie Robertson has worked at the scheme since it opened earlier this year.

“We are very much a family here,” said Natalie.

“The relationship the residents have between them I believe will never be broken.

“They know when they move in here it won’t be their ‘forever home’ but I always say a home is not a place, it is a feeling and the people they have around them.”

Our residents have described the Lily Gertrude community as a ‘family’, who have helped them in their struggles with addiction and rough sleeping.

Everyone has access to weekly healthcare with visiting district nurses, and residents are also encouraged to take part in trips out to play sports and watch Stoke City.

Natalie continued: “Things we look at right away are making sure their benefits are in place, they have a bank account and are registered with a doctor.

“We’ll look at what help they need – do they need to learn how to cook, or budgeting skills? Sometimes people need to learn how to live.

“How long people stay depends on where people are in their journey. Some have stayed a couple of weeks; some have been here for months and are waiting for the right flat to come up.

“We have an onsite hub where residents can access services from all over the city, and we also have charities like Men Unite and Walk Ministries come in. They have access to healthcare every week when the district nurses come in.

“We have got 24-hour staff and security to make residents feel safe. When you have been sleeping rough, safety is a massive thing. Not feeling safe is why accommodation breaks down a lot of the time.”

If you’re concerned for someone without a home, get in touch! Call 03300945558 or email [email protected]

*we value the safety of those we support, so we’ve changed their name.

Photo provided by Stoke Sentinel.

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