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The human cost of housing funding cuts

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: March 03, 2014

28/02/14 Former Homeless chap speaking about the good work of P3 Housing - High Street, Woodville Former homeless man speaking out about the good work of P3 housing....Nigel Hill / Liz Price - Mgr, P3

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IN 2012, Nigel Hill reached his lowest ebb.

In the blink of an eye he had gone from having a successful job and family life, to sleeping rough, and wondering whether there was any point in going on.

Then, about a year ago, he received a lifeline which helped him get back on track, and 12 months on, he is finally starting to look towards the future.

He describes the people behind that lifeline – P3 Housing in Swadlincote – as ‘heroes’.

“Without the help of P3, I would be dead. There is no doubt about it. I love them to pieces. Where would I be without them? I would be knackered,” the 53-year-old told the Mail.

His story echoes that of dozens of people in South Derbyshire helped by the charity, which provides supported housing for those in need of help.

But these people could be cut loose from the help they are receiving if Derbyshire County Council follows through with proposals to remove funding from the organisation.

Liz Price, who manages the charity’s Swadlincote enterprise, said: “I know the council has to make cuts, because the Government has to make cuts, but I just feel sorry, frustrated, helpless and impotent that it’s going to be the most vulnerable people in society who are affected by it.”

There are 50 people in the area who are currently receiving support from P3.

Mr Hill, of High Street, Woodville, is one of 13 who live in supported housing run by the charity, and staff work with a further 37 people to support them in their own homes to manage tenancies and get back on track.

The seven staff are working at full stretch, and there is always a waiting list, Ms Price said.

The proposed cuts, which are currently under consultation, would see P3 losing all its funding in the county, affecting all strands of services – including homelessness provision and working with people with mental health problems.

For Mr Hill, who suffers with mental health problems, it would mean going back to square one.

At the moment, he is receiving help with organising benefits, sorting out his health problems and dealing with any other practical issues he has.

The staff at P3 are also on hand whenever he needs to discuss his problems.

The hope is that by the end of the two years he will be in a position to move out of supported housing and into his own accommodation. And he is getting there.

“I’m up and down. I have good days and bad days, but I’m getting better. I’m trying to look forward and put everything behind me,” Mr Hill said.

It was May 2012 when ‘it all went pear-shaped’, as he describes it. Circumstances at home meant he was unable to go back, and he could not find accommodation through South Derbyshire District Council.

He was homeless, and could see no way out. He tried to commit suicides several times, and it was only when he was sectioned under the Mental Health Act that things started to turn around.

He was referred to P3 and, through them, found a home and the support he needed.

The organisation works is a stepping stone for people who need a little bit of support to manage their own housing, Ms Price said. “We can help with health problems, debts, help people sort their benefits and help them problem solve.

“I would be a sorry day if the funding was cut. P3 are heroes,” Mr Hill said.

Cuts from central Government mean that Derbyshire County Council has to cut £157 million by 2018, and it proposes to slash £9 million from its housing-related support budget.

The organisation is currently looking for alternative funding avenues, in the hope of retaining services at a time when demand is increasing.

Ms Price said staff knew it was not the fault of the council, but said it was ‘disappointing’ that the situation had arisen.

“The voluntary sector really does prop up statutory services and without that help the implications are far-reaching. The demand for statutory services is going to increase. It’s going to have a massive impact on cost and on human lives,” she added.

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