Real stories, from real people living in Temporary Accommodation
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Natalie and her one year old son moved into a Raven temporary accommodation (TA) scheme when she was 20 years old, where they lived for nearly two years. Natalie tells us what it was like and how it affected her.
Where were you living before you moved to Raven?
I lived in a private rented flat with my partner and our son. We were evicted because the landlord decided to sell the property and we had to move back home with my mum. My mum’s home wasn’t big enough and there wasn’t enough private space for everyone which caused arguments, so my mum asked us to leave. I also broke up with my partner. I went to my council and they put me into a bed and breakfast, where I stayed for six weeks before moving to Raven TA..
How did you feel when you first moved in?
I was scared because it was just me and my son moving into the flat. It felt lonely and scary not knowing anyone. I felt a huge amount of pressure knowing I had to pay bills and that they had to be paid on time. It was my sole responsibility and I had no one to share it with or help me out.
How did you find the support of Raven’s TA Officer?
It was nice having someone to talk to. When I got letters I didn’t understand I’d take them to my TA officer, Charlotte, who helped me with them. Charlotte helped me with my debts and budgeting. She also referred me to the Citizens Advice Bureau for extra support. She also helped me with repairs and other day to day worries and issues I had.
Were there activities for you to get involved in?
There were Easter egg hunts and Christmas events. I went to meetings to set up a residents’ association. I also went to a loan shark and money management presentation - Raven paid for my childcare and travel costs. There were also opportunities to do courses like first aid.
How did you find moving on from TA?
Scary, even more so than moving into temporary accommodation. I’d got used to Charlotte’s support -this time I really was on my own. Charlotte helped me settle into our new home but even so I had to go back to her for help a couple of times, but she didn’t mind. .
Living in TA helped me become more independent but it didn’t feel like home, I couldn’t decorate and there were rules you had to stick to like not having guests after 10pm or not having pets. Now I ‘m independent and I love it. I can go away for a week and I don’t have to tell my officer where I’m going.
Do you have any tips for someone moving into one of Raven’s TA schemes?
You need to be a bit careful what you say and who you say it to when you’re living so close to other people. Everyone is in the same boat as you and desperate to move so people can feel a bit stressed.
When you’re waiting for properties to come up on the HomeChoice website don’t be too picky or you will spend a long time in TA. Consider the cost of rent and bills not just the location or style. My home has a very low rent so I went for it, but I didn’t see that it has electric storage heaters or water metres. My electricity costs are really high and most properties have water costs included in the service charges. It’s something I wish I’d looked into further.
Use the help and the support you’re given. It’s there for a reason and can make a real difference!
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What was your situation before you moved into temporary accommodation (TA?)
I came into TA from a residential unit for mums and babies, I’d been in foster care before that since having my daughter Angel. Angel was one when I moved into my flat. This was my next step towards independence and showing that I could cope with Angel alone.
How did you feel when you moved to TA?
I felt happier to be out of the residential unit and to have a place to call my own. My flat had its own kitchen and bathroom and I liked the freedom of having my own place for the first time ever and being able to make my own choices.
What kind of support did you get and how did it make a difference?
My TA officer visited daily in the beginning. It was reassuring to have someone who didn’t judge me because of my file. Sophie my TA officer taught me how to set up electric, gas and water accounts. She helped me improve my confidence when talking to companies so that when I moved on I could do it all myself. Sophie came over daily and explained things to me, encouraged me and listened to me if I just needed to talk; she understood.
Sophie introduced me to SureStart (a local children’s service) which was helpful - I met other people and did a parenting course. My life changed for the better and in the end I saw Sophie once a week as she had taught me what I needed and I was busy out doing activities with Angel.
How about moving on from temporary accommodation?
Ten months later a property came up and I got it. I was so excited to finally move to somewhere permanent. I felt ready to move on and I knew I could cope. I was so happy that Angel would have her own room and garden. Sophie helped me get a grant for carpets and essentials and with sorting out problems with benefits that I had when I moved.
And how are things now?
I am now 100% confident dealing with benefits and companies that I pay bills to. I plan to start a college course this year and Angel has started nursery, which she lovest. Angel’s still clingy due to all that we’ve been through but she’s all settled now with her pink princess bedroom! I am happy I got the chance to prove myself as a good mum and that we’ve become a normal family in a permanent home.