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Lending a helping hand in times of dire trouble
WHEN people are struggling with housing issues it can seem like there is no way out, and that no one is available to help them get them through those troubled times.
But vulnerable adults facing problems such as eviction, rent or debt problems, or needing help with utility companies are able to access support from a charity, which pledges to help them solve the problems they encounter.
Connection Floating Support, based in Dunnock Way, Blackbird Leys, is now the sole provider of the service for the whole of the county after winning a tender from Oxfordshire County Council.
The charity has offices across the each of the five district council areas, Oxford city, South and Vale, Cherwell and West Oxfordshire.
It helps people with mental health difficulties, drug and alcohol users, offenders, victims of domestic violence, people with learning or physical disabilities and the homeless.
Chief executive Mark Thompson said the term “floating services” is being used to indicate that support staff will try to provide support for service users where they need it most.
He added: “It means that we move to you when you are in crisis.
“We can also be with people for as little time as they need. It could be a week, or if they need us for longer we can be around for more time.”
Cases are referred to Connection and the team aims to help people overcome their problem in as short amount of time as possible and to give them the skills they need to cope with any similar problems in the future.
Sarah Penny, a support worker, said: “What we find is the information and letters that are sent to people can be really hard for them to understand. Very often they are not as clear as they could be in what they are telling people and we have to work it out for them.”
Support worker Elaine Brown said: “What I always say about what we do is that we do it with you, not for you.
“We want to give people the chance to stand on their own two feet so if things happen again they can understand what it means.
“We do work with people more than once, but we aim to be able to help them so they don’t need us again.”
Mr Thompson added: “Connection won the contract in March to be the sole provider of floating services for the whole of Oxfordshire. We are focused on getting housing needs sorted and giving people the skills they need to survive on their own and in their own communities.”
Mr Thompson said the lack of housing in Oxford caused many problems for vulnerable people.
He said: “One of the difficulties is the so-called housing crisis. That impacts vulnerable people who sometimes will have less skills to be able to understand that.
“The choice-based letting system can be complicated and also when people come to move they aren’t able to organise moving options, so we can do things like applying for grants from charities, or provide a removals van.”
When people are moving into independent accomodation for the first time, sorting out the payment of bills and other administrative tasks can be daunting for them.
Mr Thompson said: “If people have been in a hostel or homeless then getting all the little bits like bills and utilities sorted can be hard to get together, or even sorting out being registered at a GP.
“Some people who have been homeless will have a range of issues, such as mental health problems or alcohol dependency, and we can help them get manage their way through the system.”
County council spokesman Marcus Mabberley said: “The key aim is to prevent homelessness, working in partnership with housing, and health and social care agencies, to ensure that the housing-related support needs of individuals are met.”
- Connection Floating Support will host a launch event at County Hall on Friday, October 11, to highlight its work in the county
‘Without her I do not know what I would have done’
ROSEMARY found herself getting behind on her rent and unable to make ends meet.
The 41-year-old, who lives in the Vale of White Horse District Council area, was put in touch with Connection three months ago by her welfare officer at the council.
She said: “I had really big rent arrears and was facing being evicted.
“My children have been adopted from me so I am now living in a two-bedroom flat by myself.
“I was left with big rent payments after my ex-partner left and I was getting so behind.”
Rose, who has diabetes, has been helped by her support worker Elaine Brown to organise payments.
She said: “Without her I don’t know what I would have done. She is there to remind me to go to all my doctor’s appointments and to make my rent payments.
“Because I live alone in my flat I am also facing paying the bedroom tax. I can’t move out into a one-bedroom place because of the rent arrears so I will be affected by the bedroom tax — it is a catch 22 situation.
“I really appreciate the help Elaine has given me. She is helping me to sort things out.”