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.

Susan’s Story

Susan accessed our volunteer service last year and has now commenced a new role with us as a Customer Service Assistant, part of our ILM programme, adults over the age of 25 with a disability sustain long term employment.

“Depression has always been a problem for me, my mum died 5 years ago and I hit rock bottom, I lost myself, I lost my confidence, I couldn’t operate for a few years after she passed away. I was in quite a bad state emotionally. I had no motivation, nothing.

I came across PBHA in June last year. I was looking for a change and more of a challenge. I started volunteering in September and it helped me gain more skills, as it was more varied and challenging. I needed to gain more skills in admin work, and volunteering at PBHA helped me do that.

Valerie helped me visualize what skills I have and what skills I’d like to gain, this helped me to visually see my journey and where I was going. She also prepared me for my interview and gave me interview tips so that I felt confident as I get very nervous with interviews.

I was very relieved and excited to get the role. There are so many things I like about the role.

I like being entrusted with things, it makes me feel useful, capable, confident, worthy.

Being at PBHA has given me more confidence than any job I have had since I started working. I feel at home here. Other places will have a lot to live up to. PBHA will be my benchmark for wherever I move on to next!

I look forward to coming every week; it has definitely helped my wellbeing. People here are lovely, helpful, friendly, supportive, which is what I needed. I feel a part of something.

I used to talk myself out of job descriptions and say “I can’t do that” but now I can talk to myself and motivate myself and say “yes I can do that” because I have done it at PBHA. It makes a difference that Peter Bedford is a Mindful Employer, you don’t see that every day at all.”

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.”

LG’s Story

LG had been long term unemployed and felt that he needed more up to date work experience. He was referred to PBHA by his disability employment advisor at the Jobcentre in Walthamstow to access our volunteering service to gain experience and confidence for getting into work.

“I hadn’t been able to work because I had been ill for a quite a while. I’d been to the Jobcentre back and forth for 2-3 years. There isn’t as much inclusive work out there for people with disabilities, but that is where PBHA has helped. PBHA was more inclusive and open to all.

Leanne and Valerie were amazing. They’ve treated me as a person, as a human, given me dignity, put a lot of trust in me, given me opportunities and basically helped me rebuild my life again!

The support I received gave me confidence with a lot of different skills that I wouldn’t have possibly had if I didn’t gain experience through PBHA. It helped me brush up the skills I did have and get better at them.

Volunteering and the placement have given me more confidence and more of a positive feeling and outlook for the future, I feel hopeful again!

Interacting with people has helped me feel more positive. It’s a big thing being part of a team, I know that my input helps the team work and gets the job done. It feels good because I’m learning new skills.

I feel able to contribute to society again. I feel able to follow my career goals and to make a start to get into my dream industry of construction, volunteering at PBHA has really helped me.”

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 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.

Olamide’s Story

“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”