Case Studies: housing support
Mrs T was 79 when she first approached GATE; She had been living in a housing association property with her son for over 10 years and had applied for a mutual exchange.
The mutual exchange was set up and keys and contracts changed hands, on the day of the move they pulled up outside their new property and were greeted by a group of neighbours who said ‘we do not want Gypsies moving here’. Mrs T and her son left and did not return. They presented to GATE 4/5 months later as homeless, they had been living in their caravan on the side of the road.
GATE explained the homeless process to the family and offer to help them get statutory homeless status but they did not want to go ahead with this. The family expressed an interest in a private caravan site that they had provisionally agreed a move to, but needed help in claiming benefits.
Using Leeds GATE as a care of address Mrs T applied for Attendance Allowance and Pension Credit (as they had stopped due to lack of contact during their period of homelessness). Her son also reapplied for income support. Mrs T had been seeing a specialist at the hospital for a number of long term health complaints; we re-established contact with the hospital and set up a new appointment with GATE as care of address.
Mrs T was now in a position where she could claim housing benefit so we helped the family apply for a pitch on the private site just outside of Leeds where some of their family were permanently staying; many of these tasks had added complexity for the family because both clients have absolutely no literacy. The family moved onto the private site in February. We assisted in basic set up of a new home, registering with electric / water supply and a successful application to the Social Fund for a Community Care Grant. This replaced many house hold items they had sold or not been able to keep whilst homeless.
Throughout the intervention we were concerned not to create dependency on GATE but Mrs T’s contact with the office increased, she became concerned over smaller, less important tasks, calling us daily until we visited about things such as the digital switch over or renewal of a blue badge that was not due for 3 months. Now that the family were settled and around other family who were literate we asked Mrs T if her older granddaughter (16) could be present at meetings. She was happy for this and her granddaughter took an interest in the tasks and helped out.
We became increasingly concerned with Mrs Ts mental heath, she had historically suffered with depression but was becoming increasingly forgetful. Even with family help Mrs T would still ring GATE very often forgetful and worrying about already completed tasks. After consideration we broached the subject of forgetfulness with her and after spoke to her daughter. Her daughter attended an appointment with the GP and shared her concerns. Mrs T has recently had a referral from her GP to dementia services.
The family still find it difficult to access services; the site is isolated and a long distance from the hospital where both Mrs T and her son attend regular appointments. They often speak of the regret of moving away from the house in the first place and are on the Leeds Homes Register to try and get a property back near their previous address.
GATE maintain contact but not as regularly in recent times. From visiting the site we also have other families who live there approaching us for advocacy tasks and have increased our membership.