Care leaver Ollie was in debt and abusing drugs – now he’s living independently

Care leaver Ollie was in debt and abusing drugs – now he’s living independently

At Concrete, every customer has a unique story that has led them to us. To help them start a new chapter, we have to understand that story and create a support plan that meets their needs.

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach – that’s what makes us unique. Customers mark their own path, and we’re always there to guide them along the way.

When our Cheshire East team first met 19-year-old care leaver Ollie*, he’d worked with other local providers with little success. He found himself without a home, in debt and abusing drugs.

Ollie was welcomed by our team, including his service coordinator Charlotte, who offered lots of support. Ollie worked hard to take control of his debts, pay his service charge and get a job. Now he’s getting ready to move into his first independent flat and looking for a new job with more hours.

We spoke to Charlotte to find out more about Ollie’s journey.

Charlotte said: “We first met Ollie over 18 months ago. Normally we work with customers for around six to nine months but he needed more time to increase his trust in the service and build a good relationship with me. We didn’t want time to be a barrier for him or his housing. 

“As a care leaver, he’d faced lots of uncertainty in his life and been in different placements that didn’t work out.

“When Ollie first arrived, he’d often break rules. He’d smoke cannabis in his accommodation, be verbally abusive to staff and wouldn’t pay his service charge.

“He later told me that he only did this because he wanted us to show him that we were different and we weren’t going to just ‘get rid of him’ like others did.

“He was used to being evicted as soon as he broke a rule but we didn’t give up on him that quickly.”

Service coordinators like Charlotte meet with customers like Ollie weekly, but they’re always available for extra support if needed. This gives customers the chance to talk about their plans for the future, and service coordinators can put plans in place to help them get there.

Charlotte said: “I’ve worked intensely with Ollie and there have been times when I’ve had to challenge his way of thinking. This is always done in a respectful way with lots of support. Thanks to this approach, Ollie’s mindset has changed massively. He’s now viewing a flat and getting ready to move into his very first lone tenancy.

“Ollie has been through a lot and he’s still so young. He can’t be expected to get everything right straight away.

“We gave him the time he needed to trust our service and build a relationship with me. We didn’t force him to meet our usual timescales, because we know that support must be adapted to meet a person’s needs.

“I’m really proud of the work I’ve done with Ollie and I do feel like I’ve really made a difference to his life.

“We gave him the chance to be a young person and make mistakes, all while keeping him safe and helping him develop into the adult that he is becoming.

“When I look at him now, he’s a completely different person to when we first met him.”

Last year we opened our Cheshire East office in Crewe to further support people living in the area.

The office is home to our Cheshire East Supported Housing and Floating Support teams, who support customers experiencing homelessness through rough sleeping or loss of tenancy.

If you’re living in Cheshire East and need support with your housing situation, get in touch. Email hello@thisisconcrete.org.uk or call 03300945558.

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