Posts Tagged ‘housing’

Phoebe’s housing plea: Stop neglecting resident mental health

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

Phoebe is a 24-year-old social housing tenant from Salford, who has lived in her current home since she was a toddler. Along with an estimated 7 million others across the UK, Phoebe is an informal carer to her mother, who experiences periods of poor mental health.

We met Phoebe at START, a creative arts and wellbeing centre in Salford, where we were kindly given the opportunity to speak to START members about their experience with housing as part of our Brick by Brick campaign . Phoebe spoke profoundly about the stigma her family had faced from housing staff due to her mother’s mental health, and explained how a lack of compassion from housing association staff had brought her family to brink of eviction.

We thank Phoebe for writing openly about her family’s experience; her story of neglect of tenant mental wellbeing is all too common. We hope that Phoebe’s words will encourage other tenants to speak out, and encourage Salford’s housing associations to listen and consider what changes they need to make in their organisations so that such scenarios aren’t repeated. Read Phoebe’s housing plea below:

 

brick by brick salford campaign“Please be more aware of residents who won’t let a housing officer in – maybe there’s a reason for it. For example, my Mum is a bad hoarder and we were constantly threatened with eviction, I was always terrified we’d be kicked out each day growing up. The housing officers would come in really rudely, take photos and leave again. It was only when she got CBT that they understood, yet still no help, not with mental health, not with the black mould in my house that we’ve lived with since I was three (I’m 24 now) – nothing. They won’t even help my sister who’s suicidal because she’s that desperate for help with housing – things need fixing and she needs adjustments. It feels like they just don’t care.”

Has your experience with housing in Salford affected your mental health? By sharing your story, you could help us better understand the real problems in Salford’s housing system, and encourage others to speak out about their experiences. Write your housing plea, or get in touch with us at, communications@mindinsalford.org.uk  .

 

Mind in Salford team up with local business to help struggling client overcome housing difficulties

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

When experiencing a period of poor mental health, sometimes managing a home can become overwhelming, especially when under severe financial pressure.

Mind in Salford’s welfare rights and debt advice team work regularly with individuals who are experiencing problems with money and mental health, helping them to manage debt, understand their welfare rights and explore avenues to help ease financial strain. Advice team member, Lisa, recently started working with a struggling client, Gemma, who was at risk of having her three young children removed by social services due to an excessive hoarding habit – a common symptom of many mental health problems such as OCD and depression.

Wanting to make a settled life for her and her children following a period in an abusive relationship, but with no money to begin clearing the house, Gemma found her situation worsening. An enduring period of depression and anxiety was further exacerbated when she received a sanction on her Universal Credit allowance, which came after her mental health condition forced her to cancel a meeting with a work coach at her local Jobcentre Plus.

 

“Mental health problems can make it extremely difficult to attend appointments and meet other welfare criteria, meaning that those suffering are often issued with sanctions. Claimants are then left with an even more restricted ability to engage with services, therefore reducing their income, aggravating money problems and increasing the risk of worsened mental health or homelessness.” Brick by Brick Report – Housing and Mental Health in Salford – Mind in Salford

 

Things started to look up when social services agreed to provide Gemma with a skip, so that she could start the process of clearing her home – a vitally important step towards regaining some stability and keeping her children. Unfortunately, the offer was withdrawn, and with no support from her landlords (a well-known local housing association) the prospect of resolving her problem seemed increasingly unlikely.

 

Typically, registered council providers such as housing associations have a duty to cooperate on matters of tenant safeguarding (such as support for with mental health problems) yet the association did not provide a skip as allegedly they deemed Gemma’s situation to be self-inflicted. 

 

Salford has the highest proportion of social renters in the country, with 35.29% of households renting from one of the city’s registered social housing providers. Source: ONS (2016)

Lisa reached out to Worsley-based company, Kenny Waste Management, who after hearing Gemma’s story kindly agreed to provide a skip free of charge. Subsequently, her friends and neighbours helped her clear her home, thereby kick-starting the process of overcoming her hoarding, providing a safe home for her children and regaining control of her life. What’s more, United Utilities Trust Fund cleared the water bill of over £3,000 that Gemma had accrued when she was without her Universal Credit entitlement, and replaced her cooker through their white goods grant.

 

 

 

We would like to say a big thank you to Kenny Waste Management Ltd, for making this incredible gesture of good will by donating their time and resources to help our client, and also to United Utilities Trust Fund for allowing Gemma the debt relief she so desperately needed.

 

“It’s great that organisations and local businesses can come together to assist local people in need.” – Lisa White, Advice Team, Mind in Salford.

 

We are pleased that with the help of our advice service, Gemma has restored some stability to her life and can begin planning for her and her children’s future. However, stories like Gemma’s are all too common, and highlight the need for improved mental health support for social housing tenants. We are therefore calling on housing associations in the Salford area to demonstrate their commitment to supporting tenant mental wellbeing, and ensure that staff know how and where to signpost and individual should they be struggling.

If you would like to find out more about some the housing an welfare issues raised in Gemma’s story, view our Brick by Brick Campaign page, where you can read our analysis and find out how to get involved.

Four in five people with mental health problems say their housing has made their mental health worse

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Figures from Mind show that nearly four in five (79 per cent)* of people with mental health problems said a housing situation has made their mental health worse or caused a mental health problem.

More than two in three (69 per cent) of the people Mind surveyed said they had issues with the quality of their housing such as damp, mould, overcrowding and unstable tenancies. One in four tenants with mental health problems are behind on paying rent and at risk of losing their home.*

The findings come as Mind launches a major new housing campaign. The charity is calling on the Government and local authorities to provide good quality homes and a housing system that’s easy to understand and doesn’t discriminate against people with mental health problems.

Sophie Corlett, Director of External Relations at mental health charity Mind, said:

“It is unacceptable that so many people with mental health problems are living in housing situations that are making their mental health worse.

“Housing is more than just a roof over your head. It’s about finding somewhere safe and stable to call home. We all have the right to live somewhere that helps us focus on our families and our health or other parts of our lives. For people with mental health problems, a good home can be even more important when it comes to staying well.

“Too often people with mental health problems are living in cold, damp, poor quality homes or dealing with difficult landlords. Many of them will come into contact with authorities that hold outdated, stigmatising beliefs about people with mental health problems. At the best of times bad housing situations can be difficult, but for those of us with a mental health problem, it can be even harder to handle. It can make our mental health worse.

“This needs to change. While housing is high up the agenda at the moment, people forget that those with mental health problems are particularly at risk of being in poor housing situations. We want to see mental health embedded in all housing policy developed by the Government.”

Chris, 50, from London, has complex PTSD after being in an accident five years ago. While in hospital, he got behind on his rent payments and people were sending him bills and threatening debt collection letters. When Chris came out of hospital, the Housing Association put him in contact with their Benefits and Welfare Officer who helped Chris complete forms, access housing benefits and get support with his mental health.

He says:

“My housing is a source of stability in my life. Without a home, what other source of stability have you got in your life? I can’t imagine how that must be and I count myself lucky.

“My flat is more than just a flat. When you say ‘where you live’ it’s not just four walls and a telly, you’ve got neighbours, and you’ve got shops, a community. Everyone knew me and knew what happened and it all helped manage my mental health and come to terms with what happened.

“I have now been diagnosed with complex PTSD. I know I would be in a lot worse place if I hadn’t had my house.”

Another Mind campaigner says:

“My experience of living in a very damp flat made me very stressed. I had depression and I lost most of my belongings to green and white mould. The bed covers were wet so I had to buy an electric blanket to dry the bed before we got in. It was a miracle that the electric blanket and the damp did not cause the flat to catch fire.

“I had to bathe my baby in the living room until I could afford a radiator in the bathroom. My daughter was so, so cold in the bathroom so there was no way I was risking her health.

“We then moved to a new house and life started getting better. Being in surroundings that are manageable makes me better able to deal with my depression.”

 

[1] Figures from online survey by Mind. Total number of respondents who said they had mental health problems was 1,780. Of those 1,410 said that their housing situation had made their mental health worse and 1,221 said that they experienced at least one issue with the quality of their housing 
[1] Social Exclusion Unit (2004) Mental Health and Social Exclusion. London: Social Exclusion Unit