Creating homes and places where people want to live

Housing First supports homeless man to start his own business

A former rough sleeper is planning to set up a catering business once the coronavirus pandemic is over, thanks to an innovative approach to supporting rough sleepers led by Nottingham City Homes. 

Dean*, who has been with NCH’s Housing First scheme since it began in 2019, is planning to take food hygiene and digital skills courses with NCH to help him realise his ambitions. He said: “I became homeless as a result of a bereavement, which then led to poor mental health and, from that, drug use. I was homeless for eight years before Housing First, but before everything happened, I had my own business and lived and worked for many years abroad. 

“Housing First has been a game changer for me – I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve had. I am really looking forward to the food safety course as I hope to set up a mobile catering business and get back to working for myself again. 

Housing First provides settled accommodation and support to people with long histories of homelessness and rough sleeping. It was first established in New York in 1992 and has since been widely adopted in countries across the world.  In Nottingham, Housing First is delivered by NCH in partnership with Nottingham City Council, Framework and Opportunity Nottingham, and has turned the fortunes of 35 former rough sleepers around in its first year of operation.  

Dean isn’t the only Housing First success story. The very first person to be housed by Housing First in Nottingham was Maria*, who had been living in a tent on Forest Rec, but had had the tent and all her possessions stolen when she was taken in to hospital unexpectedly. Maria came to Housing First on discharge from hospital, and almost a year later, she is now settled and has decorated her flat beautifully using decorating vouchers that NCH makes available to all Housing First tenants. 

Another former rough sleeper and addict, Calvin*, has been able to get in touch with his adult daughter who he hasn’t seen for years and as a result of his good relationship with her has asked to go into rehab so that he can move forward with his life. Having a home and his daughter back in his life has helped him to decide to make positive changes to move on successfully with his life.

Fiona Cass, who leads Nottingham’s Housing First initiative at Nottingham City Homes, says, “Housing First isn’t always straightforward – the majority of the people we work with have multiple and complex needs including addiction and mental health issues, but by working together with partners and providing complete wraparound support, we’re seeing people turning their lives around.”

Cllr Linda Woodings, Portfolio Holder for Planning, Housing and Heritage, said: “Nottingham City Council is committed to working with partners such as NCH to support our most vulnerable. It’s fantastic to see Housing First making a real difference to people’s lives and helping them forge positive futures for themselves in a nurturing and supporting environment.”  

*Names have been changed