Last year when I applied to the council for housing because I was identified as ‘in need of support’ I was allocated funding for housing support. My needs were put together and put out to different housing support organisations for them to decide if they could help me and then I was contacted back with the list of five organisations that were offering me support. Some housing organisations and charities mainly worked with those who were homeless or who had mental health or substance misuse issues and I didn’t fall into this category as someone with physical disabilities. I didn’t know anything about them other than the charity’s name but I chose to be supported by Framework.
My first housing support worker at Framework was Lotti who was the team leader, she was very flexible with the support she offered and we got on well. She helped me get set up with the council’s housing list and she put together the paperwork and evidence for what category I’d be put into for housing. Thankfully first time round I was put as top priority for housing and I feel this was based on the strength of Lotti’s work.
The initial work Lotti did for me was offer me 1:1 support, help me check the list of properties I was eligible to bid for, have a drive around properties I’d bid on and view properties with me among other things.
Lotti left Framework just as I got my bungalow but she was really happy for me as she knew the struggle I’d gone through to get a property with a bath as she liaised a lot on my behalf on this issue.
When I got my bungalow my Framework support worker went through the tenancy agreement with me so I understood what I was signing.
Honestly, without Framework I would have really struggled to know what to do to set up a new home. They helped me find and set up with utility companies, apply for my council tax on my behalf, know where I can get reductions because of my disability, apply for my bins to be collected, have the fire service assess me and my property, sort out issues with my TV license and lots more. Even just knowing that they are there on the end of the phone is helpful and means a lot, like the time I called Rick in tears because a lady from British Gas got me so upset I hung up and I just immediately called him after hanging the phone up.
Having M.E. means my energy is limited so having people like Lotti, Kim, Sarah and Rick and others at Framework speaking and acting on my behalf is so so helpful to my health as I don’t have the energy they have to make phone calls or write letters or fill out forms. I also have dyslexia and that combined with my brain fog I often struggle to understand the housing related paperwork I get sent. For example today I kept a letter from my water company that I didn’t understand to show to Rick when he came round so he could read it and explain it to me. Other times it’s simple support that helps like someone finding my bin collection rota so I know what bin is being collected on what week that saves me time and energy looking for this information myself that really helps.
I’ve been having lots of problems with British Gas. First it took a few attempts to switch over to them and then it took Rick a few attempts to switch me over to pay-as-you-go. Ricks also spent many hours on the phone to them for me with some successes like getting my money back that they took out my bank unnecessarily but most of the time we’ve (or more so Rick has) been been banging our/his head against the wall with the company. All I wanted was a plug in display box, the British Gas app displaying my meter reading and easy top up on my phone, instead I have non of this despite Rick’s best efforts to get me this. The only time I can get meter readings is when I have a visit from one of my support workers from Framework who go outside and physically check my meters for me. One time my gas was very low and could have fallen into debt, even today if Rick hadn’t checked my meters my electric meter could have easily fallen too low and it does get worrying not knowing my meter readings easily and accessibly. The whole situation is very stressful so I’m so grateful that I have the support of Framework and especially from Rick who is on the case who is now writing a complaint letter, something I’d really struggle to do if I was on my own. In fact this whole situation with my gas and electric I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have Rick and everyone else at Framework.
It’s also good to know that I have that continuing support from Framework and they can support me in whatever shape or form I need. It’s helped me settle into my home and I know Framework are there to help me live independently and thrive and that’s just what they are doing. I really can’t thank them for all their support so far and their continuing support.
To anyone who is thinking of getting their own property, is in the process of looking for a property or has just moved into a property and is struggling or feels they may benefit from housing support I’d strongly recommend contacting your local council’s housing department and asking for housing support.