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.”

Gary’s Story

Gary is a Black Caribbean man in his fifties. He had previously lived in Australia for many years, and on the day of his return to the UK a year ago suffered a stroke. While he made a complete recovery with his speech and regained some of his independence, he is still severely affected due to complications after a heart operation. Feeling isolated and lonely, he fell into a depression. 

As he had only just came back to the UK, he had no opportunity to resettle in London and organise his new life, and his existence for the past 12 months has been about focusing on his recovery and attending medical appointments.   

 He was referred by his health worker to Peter Bedford’s Art classes at our Kingsland Hub. He is a creative person, loving art and needed an activity to get him out of the house and engage with his creative side as well as meet new people. 

Attending the art sessions and meeting new people has enabled Gary to re-build some of his self-confidence. The art sessions that we run at our Make & Meet space are very sociable. The group of participants love sharing and talking about their experience and, as most of our participants have some kind of vulnerability or poor health condition, it is very inclusive.  

 The sense of loneliness among people with chronic illnesses is universal and Gary greatly benefitted from listening to other participants’ stories and engaging in a mindful activity. 

Gary is also interested in support with digital skills and is keen to join the DIY for Beginners course. The DIY tutor has numerous years’ experience of devising highly personalised person-centred lesson plans for people with physical disabilities and/or mental health so this will be a great opportunity for Gary. 

Jordan’s Story

Jordan moved into a Peter Bedford property at the start of August 2022. He was struggling with multiple debts, had no clear sense of purpose, and had not had his own home in many years. We were able to house Jordan in a newly refurbished, self-contained home in Newham funded by Social and Sustainable Capital, and the Greater London Authority. PBHA employs a Recovery worker who offers Jordan emotional, wellbeing and practical support to live successfully in his home.

In under a year, Jordan has shown extraordinary progress. He is now supported by Bonnie Downs foundation to repay his debts and is now managing his finances. He has also demonstrated an inspiring sense of motivation and personal growth and is currently volunteering for Newham Council in an environments and arts working group. He has attended and joined PBHA’s Repairs panel as a volunteer tenant participant as well as our most recent board meeting. Jordan is enrolled in a training scheme at Accumulate to deliver art workshops to people experiencing street homelessness, and recently delivered his first workshop in filmmaking, demonstrating great strides in his sense of self and purpose, and utilising his own adverse experiences to change the lives of others, from a place of lived experience. Jordan also participated in his first ever exhibition very recently, showcasing paintings and film. He has also just been offered a place to study fashion at Morley College based on his portfolio, which he has been building all year. 

 Jordan has made extraordinary strides to better his life, taken every opportunity that has come his way, as well as forging his own. Well done Jordan! 


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.

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. 

Jamilla’s Story

 Jamilla is a 27-year-old asylum seeker who now has settled status and British Citizenship. She is diagnosed with low level depression and anxiety and lives in a Peter Bedford home in Islington. We assist her to sustain her tenancy and she lives in a self- contained property where she is responsible for all her utility and household bills. 

Approximately 3 years ago, Jamilla secured a job, however, she was unfamiliar with the benefits system, and she did not inform Peter Bedford or Housing Benefit that she had started work. Jamilla then lost her job and did not set her benefits back up to pay her rent.  She accrued significant rent arrears, as well as an overpayment debt with Housing Benefit, Council Tax and other debts. As it became clear to us that Jamilla needed support, Peter Bedford’s Islington Housing team helped her to reinstate her housing benefits, as well as to claim Universal Credit.   

However, Jamilla struggled to meet her daily living costs, rent arrears and benefits repayments.  This struggle increased significantly last year, due to the rising cost of living. Jamilla would sit in the cold in her home as she could not afford to put the heating on.  She struggled to pay her arrears and buy food.  She could not afford a bed though her own was broken. 

Although Jamilla still struggles with budgeting, the support offered has eased her stress and anxiety, and helps her get through her day to day living more manageably. PBHA were able to help by referring Jamilla to a debt advice agency, who then assisted to provide “Breathing Space” for all her debts for 3 months. We also applied to the Cloudsley Foundation for a Welfare Grant for a new bed and a Cost-of-Living grant. Jamilla came into our Islington Hub as a ‘Warm Space’ and to access wi-fi whenever she needed to during winter. The Islington team gave her access to a telephone to call agencies during office hours, SIM cards with additional data for mobile internet use and regular foodbank vouchers. 

Jamilla’s position has stabilised, and she is now more able to keep on top of her bills, and as a result her housing is more secure.

Julie’s Story

Julie previously worked for many years as a paralegal in the city. However due to a sudden immuno-condition 3 years ago her health deteriorated rapidly and then she lost her job due to the disability/long- term health condition.  

As her illness progressed, Julie’s capacity to be independent was diminishing. This, coupled with the loss of her job and identity, led to depression meaning she now had the additional challenge of coping with mental health issues.  

Julie was living on her savings but they were almost gone; she always had hoped that she would have recovered and would have found new employment, as she has never wanted to apply for benefits. She had worked hard as a professional for numerous years to achieve a good income; this was part of her identity but by now she had also lost her home, she was living with friends and slowly losing all that she worked so hard for.   

Julie used the local library on daily basis to access the Wi-Fi to do her job search, but local libraries only offer one hour per day of computer use, however it was at the local library that she saw a poster for Peter Bedford’s Observational Drawing sessions at our Kingsland Hub Make and Meet space; she wanted to find a free activity that would help her take her mind off the daily stresses of illness/unemployment/ job search/lack of finances and general sense of isolation.  

 Julie did not have any idea of what kind of organisation Peter Bedford was when she stepped into the Hub to attend the enrichment class. She came across as withdrawn and quiet, she also seemed distracted as she struggled to follow instructions. After the session, Kamye, the Training and Assessment Coordinator offered her an Information Advice and Guidance session. This session provided Julie with a safe space to reveal her situation without going into great details about her illness. She was able to express her distress, especially the struggles in finding another job and her current housing situation.   

Courtesy of the Good Things Foundation, PBHA received computer devices to give to tenants and participants in the local community. The following week after attending the Drawing session Kamye offered Julie a tablet device so that she could continue online job search. Not only did the Drawing class provide Julie with an oasis of respite through an activity with mindfulness benefits, but she now also had the tools to continue with her online activities. She was also able to apply for PBHA accommodation. Julie’s spirits had been lifted and she became less withdrawn and more animated. 

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.