Inspiring Stories

At PBHA, we are committed to inspiring people to realise their potential, build on their strengths and achieve independence. Over the years we have enabled many tenants and participants to achieve greater independence.

Here we share a few success stories from our current/past tenants & participants about how the support they received from us helped them realise their potential.

Mike’s Story

Mike moved into a PBHA house in May 2020 following a period of sofa surfing and rough sleeping.  He has a history of substance misuse, which he is addressing through a specialist drug and alcohol agency, and medication.

When Mike came to PBHA all he had were the clothes on his back. He had lost everything else when he was homeless. He became a PBHA tenant while on furlough from his full time employment, but he felt lonely and isolated although he was in a shared property.

Mike’s Recovery Coach applied to Cloudsley for a welfare grant, to help him settle comfortably in his new home. He bought clothes, shoes, and work boots with the grant, so he now has a few changes of clothes, which has improved his sense of wellbeing and self-esteem.

Mike also purchased a TV and a chair, so he can now watch TV in his room in comfort.  This has reduced his sense of isolation, and helped him keep up to date with current affairs and coronavirus pandemic guidelines.

“Getting this grant has really helped me to set myself up in my new home.  I feel less bored and lonely, and I am saving money because I am not going out spending money out of boredom.  I have more confidence in my appearance.  Having a few changes of clothes has made me feel much better, because I don’t look like a homeless person anymore.  Thank you.”

Roy’s Story

Roy who sadly passed away in September 2017 was a painter: he painted school playgrounds, sprayed Rolls Royce cars and black cabs, and in his most recent venture turned his hand to a freer approach by splattering paint onto canvas to create abstract art.

Roy came a long way since being referred by Isledon Road mental health services in 2011. ‘Being involved with PBHA has made me think more positively about living longer – I’ve cut down on drinking, I eat healthily and I’m trying to give up smoking. I’ve enjoyed my bit of fame from having art exhibitions and my family are well-impressed.’

Roy had experience with machinery but through taking courses, such as Soft Furnishings, Upcycling Furniture and Joinery, he was able to find new ways to use his skills. Through his first exhibition at the PBHA Stamford Works, he also sold his first piece of art. ‘I found there are such nice people at PBHA, staff are very supportive and participants are friendly. I thought there could be a future here for me. Lots of people appreciate my artwork at PBHA, it’s the best feedback I’ve ever had, and it makes me happy.

‘I had the opportunity of my first solo-exhibition of action paintings at Outpost in 2013, Weather Beaten, which was a great success, I sold 7 paintings. Even Jeremy Corbyn (Labour MP for Islington North) bought one and I met him. Now when I see him in the street he says ‘Hello, I look at that painting every day when I wake up’. I feel really proud of myself.’

‘Back by popular demand, in 2015 I had a second exhibition at Outpost, Weather or Not, as part of Holloway Arts Festival with Rowan Arts, it looked amazing. I loved seeing visitors studying my paintings and I couldn’t believe it when 9 sold. It was the first time I was featured in a newspaper, the Islington Tribune, which made me really proud.’

Roy joined the Supporting Makers programme, making ‘Splash & Drip Cards’ to sell in Outpost. Through Outpost and Creative Industries’ support, he is also finding out about running a small business and market research on what customers like to buy.

Outpost hosted a special exhibition (Not a load of Pollocks: I Told You I Was Under The Weather) celebrating the life and work of Roy.

TE’s Story

When T moved into supported accommodation provided by Peter Bedford Housing Association in 2017, he was experiencing severe depression and anxiety.  He did not have a home when he was referred to us.  He was isolated from friends and family, unemployed, and lacked the confidence to gain workplace skills.  It is possible that he would have become street homeless or been sectioned.

We supported T to access the job centre, attend job fairs including one run by our local football club.  We also referred him to the Prince’s Trust and he is now working with one of their mentors.  Accompanying him at these meetings and appointments helped give him the confidence to attend.  To help him build workplace skills and confidence, we arranged for T to volunteer as a receptionist at one of our community hubs.

T did not have a digital device or internet access, but digital connectivity became crucial during the pandemic. We successfully applied to a local fund who provided him with a laptop and software so he could keep in touch with us, friends, and apply for courses and employment.

Since receiving this during the first lockdown, T applied and was accepted for a Business Administration Level 2 qualification course. Subsequently, T also completed a digital marketing course and was successful in applying for an apprenticeship with an energy company. T co-delivered training with the Director of Services to our housing teams. During that session T spoke about his experiences of living in our homes and said that his keyworker was fantastic and had helped him so much.

T’s wellbeing is now much better and he is managing his medication well. He has successfully moved on to his own tenancy.

Basil’s Story

In 2015, tenants told us they wanted longer term security of accommodation and for those getting older, dedicated accommodation for them into old age. We completed the first refurbishment of accommodation for older people this year with existing tenants like Basil who are over 55 years old, moving in.

 

Basil had been a tenant for 4 years in shared accommodation in Hackney. After his parents split up, he had a council tenancy. However, he had not been able to sustain this and had fallen into rent arrears. He had been evicted and was rough sleeping before he was referred to our Enhanced Housing Management service. Basil is a very quiet introverted man who seems to have difficulties processing information. After he came to us it became clear he had low level learning difficulties and needed support to maintain his tenancy. He has not been able to progress into work throughout his life but has active interests reading and meeting friends and family.

 

Basil needed move on accommodation to keep him secure as he grew older. Sharing for people as they age can cause difficulties with clashes in lifestyles and lack of privacy. For this reason, we started our older person’s accommodation project and are aiming to expand this to house more tenants from shared accommodation over the coming 5 years.

 

Basil is enjoying his new flat and his privacy “Thank you for the flat, it is all new and the kitchen has everything I need.”

Hardeep’s Story

Hardeep was referred to PBHA in 2017 to attend our 12 week ‘Create Your Future – Get Ready for Work Programme’ for BAME women. She has also been supported to access our creative courses and has developed her art skills and grown in confidence and self-esteem. Her artwork has been featured recently at the LONDON SEEN exhibition at Outpost.

“My husband died in 2012 and my whole world turned upside down. I didn’t have anyone to talk to. Growing up I only really learnt how to cook, but I never got to learn how to read and write, after my husband died I had a lot of time, so I decided to learn something new.

When I came to PBHA I wasn’t sure about the employability sessions at first, as Kathryn (Tutor) was tough but she taught me a lot of things and grew my confidence; she made me show up for myself. I then moved onto the creative drawing class and at first I didn’t like it but I stayed because the other participants were really nice and friendly and they helped me with my reading.

I’d never done textiles and embroidery before but the tutor Yvonne encouraged me to do it.

PBHA has made me learn how to draw and I feel good. I draw anything that comes into my mind. It makes me feel excited and good when I draw things.

Living on my own can be very hard at times, but when I show people my work and they say it’s good, it makes me feel like I’ve achieved something. Writing and drawing helps me express my emotions, it gives me a release.

When I come to the class and I tell people my story, it is very encouraging that people like me for who I am and I feel like I can be myself and I can learn.

I did some public speaking at the Haggerston Centre, where I told people about what I’d achieved at PBHA, at first I was really scared but then I remembered what Kathryn had told me “be brave and speak up for yourself, don’t be shy” and then I spoke confidently and they were really pleased, I felt really happy for myself.

Two of my paintings have been sold at the London Seen Exhibition and that’s made me feel fantastic as I thought that no one would ever want my paintings.

“Grief is very hard, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

SD’s Story

SD recently moved into a PBHA property and suffers from a long-term health condition/ disability. He arrived hoping to find a community, as he had been shielding to protect a housemate in his previous accommodation, his family is not based in London, and his work involves cold calling strangers. SD is a very sociable person, so the last year was very difficult for him. He expressed that he had been feeling demotivated and hopeless about the future. Before lockdown, he attended some yoga classes and has tried to practice mindfulness. He explained that he has not been doing either and his only source of exercise is a short walk to the shop every other day. He talked about being self-critical and struggling to switch off the negative thoughts. 

SD has been supported to rebuild confidence, discover his passions so that he feels more motivated and excited about the future, and eventually pave a new career for himself. SD has expressed that he already feels ‘lighter and brighter’ and has started to make plans for the first time in a year. He has started researching local yoga classes so that he can sign up as soon as they re-open. He is re-connecting with his love for writing and we are starting to think about ways he might be able to incorporate this into his plans for a new career.

SD has also shown interest in engaging with other PBHA activities such as Share and Connect; we are hopeful that we will be able to support him to grow in confidence and build a sense of community by connecting with others in our make and meet space. 

Patrick’s Story

At PBHA, we are developing our culture of peer support through a new “Experts by Experience” group. Patrick, a long-standing member of the PBHA community, in many ways of epitomises our principles of community and mutual support.

He has been running the community canteen for over a decade and has helped to create a more accepting and inclusive culture by setting up and coordinating our annual Pride celebration.

“It was set up in 1997,” he says, “It wasn’t as big as now. It’s grown over the years. The instigation was a community meeting about flat shares for lesbians and gay men. We got a lot of abuse. It’s much better now. There are more people of colour involved, more women, more people with mental health issues”

2016 was the first year that Pride was held at the Isledon Community Hub. “It was good,” reported Patrick, “The Mayor of Islington came and opened it with her partner. She came down and spoke, and ate with us.”

Patrick is now getting involved in the new Peer Support group. Although it has a new name, the group is an extension of what Patrick has been doing in the PBHA community and through the canteen for many years – supporting one another, sharing experiences and providing space to meet. “It’s good. Our aim is to support more tenants and participants.”

John’s Story

“Ntombiza has been the epitome of what I consider to be a caring, supportive, sympathetic and professional recovery coach,” says John, who has recently
moved into his own home after two years at PBHA.

John and Ntombiza developed an excellent relationship, which helped him to recover and to become more independent. “She gave continuous encouragement in where to go and what to do and if you needed support she would offer it.”

Before PBHA, John, who has a long-term health condition, was homeless and affected by substance misuse. In the past two years, he has gained voluntary experience to prepare for a return to work and attended recovery groups. He has also worked closely with Ntombiza on the search for accommodation.

“John’s engaged from the very beginning,” says Ntombiza, “He’s been very motivated and keen to change his life.”

Ntombiza helped John find a home suitable for his condition and that would provide him with his own space. Now he has the stability of his own home, he is planning his next steps.

It’s been a long road from being homeless to being back in a stable situation. My next aim is to embark on an Adult Health and Social Care Course, gain a level 2 qualification and start applying for work in that industry.

Rupert’s Story

Rupert was first referred to PBHA in 2014 by an external agency where he was receiving mental health support and classes to improve his literacy. Rupert had done a carpentry course at college and found it interesting, so enrolled on a training course at the Workshop. He also became involved in our Supporting Makers programme, selling his work through Outpost.

Rupert has proven himself a skilled and innovative creator, crafting products from benches to colourful dice. He has progressed to become a volunteer in the Workshop, assisting our creative industries trainer Jonathan with preparations for the evening classes, and supporting the group in their learning. Rupert also helps with setting up exhibitions.

Rupert has thrived from the responsibility of teaching other participants and has reported that helping others has improved his mental wellbeing and his confidence. He also considers the opportunity to meet new people as one of the most positive aspects of being a participant at PBHA.

Alongside his work with Supporting Makers, Rupert uses the Workshop for his own projects, and has developed an expansive network of clients. Rupert has recently moved into his own studio flat, which will afford him greater independence. He is refurbishing it himself, a project that will undoubtedly be very rewarding and allow him to utilise the skills he has cultivated in a new context.

Ed’s Story

Ed has worked in tech and digital for about ten years and he wanted to start giving back to those in need during this pandemic. Ed works full time, but his employer is giving him time to volunteer for a digital inclusion project. He joined the Digital Champions team at PBHA a few months ago and his first participant was Brenda, an over 60’s woman referred by the East London NHS Foundation Trust. 

Completely new to technology Brenda had a new smart phone, but didn’t not know how to use it. Brenda has several conditions and needed access to NHS group video calls and physio sessions. The invitation to the group is sent via email and she needed help to set up an email account and learn the basics. 

At first, it seemed a challenging undertaking as the support was delivered over the phone and not on Zoom; but thanks to Ed’s excellent communication skills and patience, Brenda can now use Safari on her phone to open Gmail, reset passwords, receive and send emails safely and securely.  She has praised her digital champion for his patience and kindness and she looks forward to her sessions and learning more.