In Impact Stories, Reducing isolation & disadvantage, Aylesbury Vale

Aylesbury Homeless Action Group (AHAG) is a registered charity that recognised the need for housing support and advice within Aylesbury Vale. AHAG aims to intervene at the earliest possible moment; their staff will assess the problems people are having and then work out practical solutions to those problems to enable people to remain in their homes or to find suitable stable accommodation.

AHAG’s figures from last year (January – December 2018):

  • A total of 237 people attended a drop in session to access housing support and advice.
  • 182 people (77%) were approaching AHAG with a new housing crisis.
  • 110 people (46%) engaged in continued ongoing support to address their housing issues.
  • 105 people (44%) were either prevented from becoming homeless or were supported into suitable housing.
  • 136 referrals (57%) were made in to partner agencies whom it felt would be of further support to clients. These include: housing providers, GPs, Adult Education, drug and alcohol services, mental health services, Women’s Aid and Citizens Advice.

In March 2018, Aylesbury Homeless Action Group (AHAG) received a grant of £5,000 from our Rectory Homes fund, which provided part-funding of their caseworkers and also a contribution towards marketing their new outreach venues.

During the period of the grant, AHAG came into contact with Joe* who required housing support but was also suffering from various physical and mental health problems.

Joe’s story:

Joe is in his late thirties and presented himself to AHAG after being referred from a drop-in session at Aylesbury Vineyard Storehouse. For months he had been sleeping in his car with no fixed abode after a relationship breakdown meant that he had to leave his former home.

Joe was suffering from depression, anxiety and PTSD from a car crash earlier in life. Joe was able to stay at his father’s home from time to time but unfortunately this was not a viable solution for the long term and he often ended up back in his car.

In January 2019, Joe was admitted to hospital to have several emergency operations to address various physical health issues. With more surgery planned in the near future Joe was unable to sustain a job or look for appropriate accommodation.

Under Aylesbury Vale District Council’s Rough Sleeper Initiative, AHAG managed to provide Joe with emergency accommodation and access to a mental health nurse whilst looking for a suitable home. They then explored all of his possible housing options, which included filling out a referral for supported housing and coaching him to secure a private rental. One of their volunteers who specialises in debt management and benefits helped Joe to consolidate his debt into an affordable loan so that he could focus on his housing.

Joe engaged in daily support from AHAG to find housing and to support him while he was in emergency accommodation.  Throughout this time AHAG also gave him a voucher for a free hot meal and issued a voucher for a foodbank parcel.

After a few weeks of continuous searching, Joe was fortunate enough to secure a direct let with a housing association. AHAG applied for a grant to pay for some white goods for his apartment, and will continue to provide support with his debt and mental health for as long as required.

(*name changed)