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.
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 which was an area of interest for him, leading him to enrol 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 often helps with the setting up of exhibitions also.
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 also 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.
“Since the first time I got to Peter Bedford, I love it!”
Olamide, a PBHA tenant since 2014, joined the Real Opportunities project last year. The programme has given her new confidence and skills. She is now job-ready and with the support of her Recovery Worker Carole, has been able to move on to a one-bedroom council flat.
Through the project, Olamide took part in courses that helped with confidence, customer service and skills for work. As her confidence grew, her coach, Valerie, encouraged her to identify her employment preferences and she took on roles in our social enterprises. “I did Maths, English, and ICT. It gave me more confidence”, says Olamide, “I was a volunteer receptionist. It was fantastic. I got to know everyone who calls.”
Valerie, noticing Olamide’s motivation and strengths as a natural helper, encouraged her to become a peer mentor to other participants. “She accepted it immediately”, said Valerie, “Olamide’s input on the programme assisted us greatly. She made new participants feel welcomed and supported them in their individual journeys” Olamide found that the mentoring helped both the participants and herself. “Valerie got three of us into mentoring. I help [people] with what they don’t understand. The mentoring helps me to be more confident and helps me more with talking to people”
Olamide has updated her CV with the courses and the work experience she has completed. She is now ready for work and engaging with Ways into Work to assist with her next steps. Earlier this year she moved into her new home. “I just got a new place. I left the shared house. It was fantastic working with Carole”
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 lesbian 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.”
“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.
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.
Margaret was first referred to PBHA in 2011 due to a combination of alcoholism and homelessness. Through PBHA, Margaret was able to access secure housing along with regular face to face support (either fortnightly or monthly), with phone calls in between to assist with challenges such as registering for welfare payments and sustaining tenancy. As well as regaining the confidence to manage her life, the sessions also signposted Margaret to alcohol dependency support available locally.
Alongside this, Margaret engaged assiduously in training and development opportunities over the years including catering at PBHA Isledon Canteen for two years, working in Outpost, a coaching programme at PBHA, an accredited food hygiene certificate and attending PBHA’s monthly women’s group.
Margaret has since moved into the private rental sector for which she accessed move-on support including rent deposit and rent in advance and has worked with LB Islington’s Resident Support Scheme to obtain funding for white goods, furniture, bedding and kitchen utensils. She is now able to sustain a tenancy for a studio flat, as well as advocate on her own behalf for welfare support and other services.
This independence has led to an improved relationship with her two grown-up children who she now sees more often. Finally, despite moving on, we are pleased that Margaret remains engaged by regularly attending Peter Bedford community events such as PRIDE.