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Seascape Ayr | Seascape stories 2018


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Seascape Ayr is a local Ayrshire charity. Its objectives are to tackle homelessness, poverty and isolation. It provides advice and support services as well as practical help with housing related crises

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Seascape Ayr | Seascape stories 2018

  1. 1. Every journey into and out of homelessness is different. Every person is unique. Here are just a few of their stories… Seascape stories…
  2. 2. Andy’s story… Aged 62, Andy left home at 16 and served round the world with the Royal Navy before working in skilled jobs in industry back in Scotland After two heart attacks Andy lost his work, money became tight and also his marriage broke down. Now out of work and with no partner he gave up his home in Irvine with the intention of moving in with his mother to look after her. Unfortunately, his mother was suffering with dementia and no longer recognised him or any of the family and did not want this “stranger” in the house.
  3. 3. “It was heart breaking to see my mother react to me like that, but what was I to do? So I moved into the garden shed instead. ”It was only when Andy mentioned in passing to someone in the pub that he was living in a shed that they said “that makes you homeless mate”. “I didn’t think of myself as homeless. I’ve always looked after myself and I’ve always coped. After twenty two years in the navy I thought, I can cope with a shed”.
  4. 4. Andy went the next day to the council and was formally assessed as homeless and referred to Seascape for support. Seascape was able to help Andy with benefits claims and was offered help with a deposit guarantee to move into a private rented flat. But at 62, what bothered him was having the certainty of a permanent home. In the end he was offered an unfurnished council flat just before Christmas. Just a wee sting in the tail. When he moved in, there was nothing, no curtains, no carpet and nowhere to sit down. Here, Seascape was able to help with small grants to provide curtains and carpets and the Pass it On scheme provided donations of furniture and cupboards.
  5. 5. Steve’s story… Steve had been with his partner for 19 years and had a young son with his partner when things began to fall apart. Having moved in with his brother, he was still taking custody of his son over weekends and unknown to him, his ex-partner had run up credit debts and arrears on their old council property which he was being held liable for. “Money was very tight already, I found I had debts of 5 or 6 thousand which my ex-partner had run up”. He ended up living in his car. Steve was working throughout as a janitor, “I thought I was keeping on top of everything but people at work could see that I was getting dishevelled and looking down”.
  6. 6. There comes a time when favours are exhausted, and Steve had to leave his brother’s home. He ended up living in his car after that. Steve was working throughout as a janitor, “I thought I was keeping on top of everything but people at work could see that I was getting dishevelled and looking down” In fact, Steve was having a “complete nervous breakdown” in his words, his GP found he was severely clinically depressed and was shocked enough at his condition to refer him to a psychiatrist. “At that time I didn’t look out of the window and see the birds and the trees. I saw the drop. I would have done it in a heartbeat”.
  7. 7. “I got through it no thanks to anyone except Seascape.. ..without them, nothing was happening, with them all of a sudden the “homeless” machinery started working. After Seascape’s intervention, I was given a permanent flat. They helped sort out my tax credits for my son, which it turned out was going to my partner when it should have been coming to me…this took seascape six months to sort out…in the meantime we were “food-banking”.
  8. 8. Fahim grew up with the war. In Afghanistan his family was doing well, his father a colonel in the Air Force and all his siblings have all been to university. His dream was to become a civil engineer. When the UK and US became involved in the Afghan conflicts all that changed. Because of his English language, for two years Fahim became a liaison officer for UK troops, translating between English and Pashto and Dari. After the British withdrawal of troops in 2014, Fahim faced an uncertain and unsafe future in Afghanistan because of his work with the UK troops. Quite literally, there was a price on his head. Fahim’s story…
  9. 9. Fahim was eventually allowed to come to the UK as a refugee. The day he arrived in Scotland from Afghanistan Fahim described it as “Day Zero”. “In Afghanistan my brother and I had to fetch water for the family from miles away, running to dodge bullets. In Scotland, there were no bullets, but when I arrived here I faced other problems. I had nothing and no idea of what I would do here, how I would live, even where to shop”. Seascape’s refugee resettlement project met Fahim. “They helped me with everything from opening a bank account to shopping. They even travelled with me to Glasgow to arrange my National Insurance Number. There is nothing like it in Afghanistan. I would never have found my way around the system without Seascape’s help.”
  10. 10. For the first 18 months, the terms of Fahim’s visa did not allow him to study or to work, so after a while he had had “enough of being on holiday”. He began doing voluntary work for Seascape using his translating skills in Seascape’s refugee resettlement program. Fahim is now a paid employee of Seascape working as a Housing Support worker in our Early Interventions team. “The job entails a lot of listening to people who have come for help, not to do things for them but supporting them to help themselves through problems they face. Although my problems in Afghanistan were very different, I have a lot of empathy with people who face daily difficulties just getting by in life”.
  11. 11. Paul’s story… “I have always been a gambler I would say, I had my first bet aged 10 would you believe? Over the years I must have wasted a hundred, two hundred thousand. If I had money in my hand, I knew I would gamble. I can put my homeless problem solely down to my addiction, to my problems” Paul, now fifty, is Govan born and bred. He worked for the Council after leaving school and since then he has worked on and off in the hospitality industry. After his father died his mother moved back to County Antrim and Paul went over to Northern Island in ’95 to be with her.
  12. 12. In Northern Ireland, he was supposed to be helping his mother out but, still gambling - “I dragged her down. She had put a roof over my head but instead of me supporting her she was supporting me.” As his mum’s health ran down she moved into supported accommodation back in Glasgow. “I held onto the house for a while but lost it in 2015 because of debt and not paying the rent. It was the family house we all grew up in, so that was that, all the memories gone.” Paul ended up at his sister’s house in Ayr “on his knees” after a last gambling spree. Despite knowing his history, she took him in and took him to Gamblers Anonymous.
  13. 13. That was when Seascape became involved with Paul. The Council initially placed Paul in hostel accommodation – “It was horrible, not fit for purpose in my opinion”. Seascape helped him to get into a permanent accommodation with South Ayrshire Council. “Seascape were terrific, they helped with getting benefits sorted and found a flat that was homely”. Seascape also allocated a Support Worker to follow-up with Paul. “I’m not sure what I would have done without that. Family are great, but sometimes there is stuff you don’t want to discuss with family. It was great to just have someone to talk to.” Paul now looks forward to a future. “I need to get back working and earning. I don’t like just being on the sick with depression. Then someone at Seascape mentioned volunteering for ‘Touch Base’ (Seascape’s telephone follow-up service), I thought that I could do that.”