Wibble Wobble Bang
Hot on the heels from Tuesday’s news that Steven will be getting a new social worker, we learned yesterday, that we will have to shortly start looking for a new home for Steven.
Steven moved here in November 2013, after the 18 month struggle to find a place after being made homeless. We knew from the outset that Steven was only being allocated “temporary secure accommodation” (which sounds like an oxymoron) but we never dreamt that he’d have to move because the whole road is being demolished. The facts are a bit sketchy at the moment but it looks like the demolition is happening to either make room for an expansion of the Brunel student accommodation, or, more likely, our road has become the latest attractive proposition for the property developers who are seeing big bucks with HS2 on the horizon. Either way, the chances of the new development being social housing, are probably zero.
Our road is part of a three street estate that was built towards the end of World War II and was built to house American servicemen and their families. These houses are solidly built properties, nothing like the pre-fabs that the UK were building at the time. The houses have obviously been modernised over the years and apart from needing a bit of TLC to the exteriors, they are in remarkably good nick. They are not being demolished because they are inhabitable.
Since Steven has been the tenant here, I have meant to be checking the local Locata site every fortnight and bid for a permanent property for him. I confess that I haven’t been particularly motivated. This is because the house is almost too suitable for Steven. It’s a good size. Considering we have support staff here most of the time, we never feel cramped. It’s close to all the places that Steven goes to during the week. And it’s very close to our extended family and this has been enormously positive for Steven, who gets to see his aunt, uncle and cousins a lot more than he used to. Why would I want to rock that boat and move him to a flat on the 9th floor of a tower block? I had a quick look at Locata today and there were 8 properties on show in our area. Seven of them were one bedroom flats and the other one was on the 9th floor in the neighbouring town. Most of them had the condition that you had to be over 55 to be in the running. This has been my experience of Locata on the few occasions that I’ve browsed the site over the past two years.
It’s funny because a couple of days before this news, myself and a support worker were talking about the confidence Steven has as he goes about his business in his home. This is such a stark contrast for the first couple of years after Steven came home from the ATU. He had no confidence and needed constant reassurance that he was staying put. Also, because he had been so institutionalised, he used to ask for permission every time he went from one room to another. We got none of that now. I’m proud of how we have built Steven’s home, so that all the things that are important to him are within easy reach within the living room. Walk into the lounge and you’d never know that I lived there too. It is the home of a young man and clearly has his mark stamped on it with his life size Mr Bean cardboard cutout, his Abba coasters that mark the spot for the remote controls, his Holby City cast photo and his Basil Fawlty car on the sideboard. When we talk about placements, units, supported living – this is a home.
There’s not much I can do to stem this wibbly wobbly feeling that bounces around in my gut. People in homeless temporary accommodation are probably at the bottom of the pecking order when it comes to consultations and being kept informed. We will just get a phone call one day, telling us the date we have to move out by. For a Mr Control Freak like me, that can be agony. But the council aren’t interested and the housing association aren’t interested in helping people manage their anxiety about the prospect of homelessness. It could be two years away but that still feels too vague for my stomach.
You might be thinking, why can’t Steven move into my flat. Of course, if the worse comes to the worse, that will have to happen. But it will mean bang goes my workplace – I can’t see clients in the flat whilst Steven is there. I’d have to look for a new room to rent which I won’t be able to afford. The good thing about the flat is that although I have to pay the council tax and the annual service charge, I’ve saved a lot on the room hire I used to pay at the Arts Centre. I couldn’t afford to pay out for all three. Checkmate. But also, Steven will be 26 next month and needs that space away from me. I remember in the first few months after Steven came home from the ATU, I was harangued at every meeting by Whistlers Mother and her manager with the question, “At what point do you expect to see Steven living independently from you?” I wanted to say, “Christ – give us some time – he’s only just come back home” but instead used to mutter vaguely “I dunno. perhaps when he’s about 25”. They don’t ask anymore. They know it’s much cheaper if we live together and money always trumps independence.
I registered with Lets For Life earlier. They’re an organisation that sets up housing for people with disabilities. We went through a similar thing with Housing & Support Alliance back in 2013, and although it can be quite stressful, it does open up possibilities. We only dropped out of the scheme because at the last minute, the council came up with the Cowley house. Steven wouldn’t need much input from Lets For Life – he already has a support package and a team of workers. He has his own furniture. All he needs is the home to put them in. I found myself browsing Zoopla this morning and came across two properties that would be ideal (ish). One is a flat, exactly the same as mine, directly underneath it. It put me in mind of Kenneth Williams living next door to his mother and popping in each day for his cod in cream sauce. Perhaps that will be too close. But there is a block identical to mine down the next road, overlooking the river and there is a two bedroom first floor flat currently available to rent there. Wouldn’t that be the dogs bollocks.
Whatever happens, it’s the start of yet another stressful few months (years?). I read back some of the blogs I wrote back in 2013 and they were a repetitive dirge of homeless anxiety. I don’t want that again.
From → Social Care