If you take a quick journey through Restore’s social media output, it rapidly becomes apparent that pictures of residents with a set of keys to their own independent tenancy are by far our most popular posts. They get the most likes, lots of positive comments and a much higher rate of engagement than almost anything else we post. And that’s understandable: this person clutching a shiny new key, standing smiling proudly in front of a door, has achieved what they set out to achieve from day one with us: moving on to a place they can call their own. To do so has often required them to overcome some significant hurdles: unemployment; debts; mental health struggles, or addiction (to name but a few examples). As such, it is right and proper that we acknowledge their achievement and celebrate with them in their moment of triumph. It’s an encouragement to the staff team, our supporters, and fellow residents, whenever anyone achieves this important milestone. However, it is not the ‘happy ending’ to the story, but merely the start of the next chapter. This blog seeks to address the ‘what happens next’ part of someone leaving Restore in this way.
Whilst there is obvious celebration among the staff team when a resident reaches this landmark moment, there is also a feeling of sadness, as we prepare to bid farewell to another resident. We always pray for people moving on to have a positive experience; to feel blessed in their new home and to settle into their new neighbourhood.
Move-outs into private tenancies are often a swift transition. Residents are liable for the rent on their new place from the moment they sign the tenancy. If they are in receipt of housing benefit, this needs to be transferred from their Restore address to their new one from the date the tenancy begins, so as not to run up arrears. Restore typically allows people a few day’s grace to facilitate moving, but once someone has keys to their own property, they typically vacate their room at Restore within a week to ten days.
This does not, of course, mean they are left stranded; a vital part of the work we do is supporting people for up to six months after they leave Restore, which is where Hilary’s role as floating community housing support worker comes into play. A lot of what happens between receiving keys and moving in is overwhelming, particularly for an individual who may not have had to deal with such matters before: setting up utility bills, rent payments, and notifying relevant organisations of change of address; anyone who has ever moved house before will know how time-consuming and stress-inducing these tasks can be! All of these are areas where our housing support team can offer assistance and use their knowledge to help put a resident at their ease.
Another key part of setting up a new home is identifying what furniture and kitchen equipment is required and sourcing these items cost-effectively. The York Financial Assistance Scheme offers help to residents in financial difficulty, so that they can purchase white goods and other essential furniture items to make their new property feel like home. Their assistance is provided in conjunction with the Community Furniture Store, who provide delivery of the items purchased.
Sometimes properties need a certain amount of interior decorating, or new carpets laying. The council will often provide a paint pack to residents, and Restore has a move-on fund, which we often use to assist people in purchasing carpets, blinds or curtains.
The final words of this article go to a former resident, who received this assistance recently and can speak first-hand of the difference it has made to him in getting settled into his new home:
“Restore does feel like one big family….I’m so grateful that I was placed at Restore…it’s like it was meant to be. Even though I had been at this tough point in my life, coming from having nothing and feeling like I was cast out…getting my flat was a very exciting time and the process was made so easy [by Restore]…any hurdles I came up against, you were always there to offer support. It was a really positive experience for me. I see Hilary once a week for support and it’s just a really calm and pleasant environment for me to be in. Restore was definitely a godsend.”
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