Jodie Nion, Basis Beds Project Lead for Oasis Community Housing, reflects on their award-winning project and its impact over the last year.
As lead of the Basis Beds at Oasis Community Housing, I feel honoured to share the story of a woman called K, whose life was changed by our project. Oasis Community Housing is based across Gateshead, Sunderland, and South Tyneside and is committed to responding to homelessness and disadvantage with a Christian approach.
The Basis Beds project provides people with multiple complex needs the opportunity to have a home of their own. We do this using surplus local authority housing stock, which we refurbish. Housing benefits pay for the property, while statutory funding or wider fundraising pays for the support element.
For most people we support, Basis Beds is their best last chance to find a place to call home
Whether due to addiction, mental health issues, behaviour or financial problems, we house many people who have tried and failed to live in hostels, social housing or with other accommodation providers.
However, when people are handed the keys to their new Basis Beds flat, and they walk through that door into a fully furnished, ready-to-occupy home, we find that a switch seems to flip in their heads. We find that when people have safety and a long-term home, they have space to start healing and hoping. They start to dare to think about beating their addictions, overcoming past trauma and in the longer term starting a job and building a relationship.
It has been a year since we won an Excellence Award from Homeless Link for this project, and in the past year, we have supported 45 people, with a further 10 people in the process of joining the project. We are proud of the successes we have achieved, including seven positive move-ons and support for residents in getting autism and learning disability assessments. However, the moment that summarised the impact of the project in the last year was K's story.
K was in a high-risk domestic violence relationship and needed to be moved for her safety. However, she was not willing to move into a refuge, and short-term options were not available. Her previous housing history and complex needs made it difficult to find suitable accommodation for her. We referred her to our domestic violence service and worked closely with other agencies, including the police, to ensure a holistic approach.
When a property became available, we offered it to K, and after moving in, she was delighted to be away from her previous address and expressed how much she loved her new flat. This was a significant moment for our team as we were able to provide a safe and stable home for K, which positively impacted her life.
Basis Beds has given K her own home. A front door she can close and lock at the end of the day. A place she feels safe and with our support, she can begin to rebuild her life.
Two of our values at Oasis Community Housing are perseverance and patience and this is essential to the Basis Beds project. We understand that a lot of people we work with may have experienced trauma, so we work with and stick with people to support them as much as we can. You may work with someone who does not feel ready to attend a meeting or call a service this week, but that doesn’t mean they won’t next week or next month.
We are grateful for the opportunity to make a positive impact on people's lives through the Basis Beds project and delighted to share our successes with others thanks to the Homeless Link Excellence Awards.
The Homeless Link Excellence Awards are a great way to showcase the hard work of people on the frontline of homelessness and recognise both internally and externally the commitment of the individuals who show up day after day to help people facing homelessness. The prestige of winning an award also helps demonstrate to other stakeholders such as funders the quality of the work delivered by your organisation.
If you have a project making a difference to people, I can really recommend applying to this year’s awards to shout about your work.
Best of luck with your application!