How supported housing helped me get back on my feet

Rianne Benjamin, 15 June 2022

When my mum passed away just before I turned 17, my relationship with my dad really changed and it was difficult for me to be at home anymore.  

I found myself homeless, staying with friends and sofa surfing, but a friend told me about Christian Action Housing, so I reached out to them. They were compassionate and understood what I was going through at the time.  

If it wasn’t for my friend telling me that there was help out there, I would probably be sofa surfing today. After speaking to Christian Action about my situation, I was given a place at Deborah Tempest House where they provide supported housing for young people.

I stayed at Deborah Tempest House for six months, but because they saw how much I’d progressed in that time, I moved to The Foyer, and after a few months found a part-time job. 

Christian Action are strong on tenant engagement, trying to better yourself, and supporting you into work if you don’t have a job. At the time I didn’t have one, so I started working with the tenant engagement team who were helping me find one. They sit down with you once a week, work with you on your CV and share any opportunities they hear about with the young people.

The Foyer is made up of 36 en-suite studio flats where keyworkers spend time with the young people there to give them the support they need. This service is for residents who are more suited to independent living. 

In The Foyer we all know where we want to go in life. We help each other out where we can too – for example, there’s residents in The Foyer who can cook really good affordable meals and they’ll host cooking workshops for residents who want to learn or gains more cooking skills.   

During my time with Christian Action so far, my confidence has grown and inspired me to start work experience with them. I’m really interested in housing and the way this organisation helps people. I can relate to it a lot because when I needed help, there was someone there to help me.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with each and every team here – I’ve shadowed housing officers and worked with the asset team too. I’m getting as much hands-on experience as possible to build my knowledge and maybe go into the housing sector one day. I think I’m made for any sector of housing if I put my mind to it.  

I’ve also been a part of the youth panel here at Christian Action, and last year I hosted and helped plan our summer celebration. We planned everything from the decorations to the guest speakers, which included residents that lived in The Foyer 10 years ago, coming in to tell their story.

This year we’re doing it again, but this time I’m going to take a backseat and encourage other young people to come out of their comfort zone and host it. In The Foyer we all have amazing hidden skills, but it’s hard to bring them out, so this year is about bringing more of that talent to the stage. 

I’ve been with Christian Action for over a year and half now, and in that time things are slowly progressing for me. I’m back on track now.  

Soon I’d like to be fully stable, to the point where I don’t have to go downstairs to ask staff for any help, but I’m grateful for the journey that I’ve had and for the staff. It’s allowed me to achieve some of the things I’ve wanted to do.

If I didn’t go through this journey, I wouldn’t have been able to see the love I have for housing, and for wanting to help young people.