“In 2020 I stupidly committed a number of criminal offences that led to me receiving a 32 month prison sentence, of which I served 16 months inside. I deeply hurt my friends and family, most of whom understandably cut off contact with me, and of course, lost my livelihood. I was released from jail on licence in November 2021.

The only place I had to go was the home of a relative who had continued to support me, but my background and offending was known to other residents of the street and so I felt continual anxiety and stress that I was causing problems for my relative and was concerned for my and her safety. After matters came to a head in a confrontation with a neighbour, I knew I had to find alternative accommodation quickly.

I used the internet to search for organisations that could help people in my situation, and fortunately Horton Housing came up. I called them out of the blue, and received a sympathetic and non-judgemental hearing from one of their support workers who asked me to visit their office the next day. On visiting the office, I was again reassured by the calm and supportive attitudes of everyone I met. Sarah, my support worker, instantly said she would work on finding me accommodation and would help me to handle all aspects of the process – finding a property, claiming the applicable benefits, and liaison with my probation worker and the police.

Leaving Horton’s office even after that first visit I felt my anxiety ease as I knew I had someone dedicated and competent fighting my corner. True to her word, Sarah found a temporary property for me as quickly as she could, and was absolutely brilliant in ensuring that I could move in as soon as possible. On the day I moved in, she even accompanied me to buy essential home items like a kettle and cooking utensils that were all paid for by Horton.

The property I moved into was ideal for me, and although the previous tenant had not looked after it, Sarah ensured that damaged or missing furniture was replaced and that the property received a thorough deep clean – again, all financed by Horton. Within days, I felt that I was ‘home’, and my mental health and anxiety began to improve markedly.

Since moving in, Sarah and her colleagues have continued to support and encourage me, with weekly visits to help me bid for permanent accommodation and to sort out any issues with bills and benefits. I know that Sarah is always available to message or call if I have any issues, and have been so thankful for her and the other Horton employees’ caring and dedicated approach.

As my anxiety became manageable and my mental state improved thanks to my new accommodation, I was able to focus my energies on applying for jobs – again with Sarah’s assistance to motivate me and help me get through tough patches. I cannot say it has been easy to secure work with a criminal record, but after five months in my new home I succeeded in gaining employment and now have the satisfaction of being able to pay my own way and hopefully become a contributor to rather than a drain upon society again.

I cannot overstate the importance of the support that Horton Housing have given me. It has been absolutely key to my efforts to rebuild a life that I shattered through my own folly, and I will always owe Sarah and her colleagues a huge debt of gratitude. I would encourage anyone in any similar situation to reach out to them as soon as possible, and to work with them in the constructive and positive manner that they employ at all times.”

*Not his real name

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