“I love it here,” Ben says when asked about one of Mind’s supported independent living residences. “Especially the workers; the staff are nice and polite and they have a good attitude.”
Before Ben, 20, came to Mind he hadn’t experienced a consistent living arrangement since he was 14. His life had been full of challenges, and he has a combination of mental health issues that he is learning to manage better with ongoing support.
“Ben’s previous housing support worker told us he had been in 40 different types of accommodation in seven years and never more than four to six months in a single place,” says Adam Bottomley, the team leader at Ben’s residence. “That was everything from living on the streets to cheap hotels to emergency accommodation.”
It’s hard to imagine everything that happens to a young person with complex mental health issues who is fending for themselves on the street and lacking basic safety and security over such a long period. Not surprisingly, when Ben first came to our supported independent living service he was accustomed to not trusting people and feeling agitated and unsafe.
“When Ben first came here it took a while to gain his trust,” Adam says, “The first three or four months were challenging as he was very volatile, but when he began to realise that now he was safe and secure there was a real turn around. It has been absolutely wonderful to see how he has blossomed since then.”
Ben has received plenty of support and companionship from other residents too, but he has also shown himself to be a helpful and caring friend to others, which is what supported independent living is all about.
“Everyone who lives here gets along well; we have community meetings and people are good at listening to each other,” Ben says.