Mental health problems pushing people to brink of homelessness
Nearly 400 people in the Mansfield and Ashfield area were pushed to the brink of homelessness last year by mental health difficulties, a charity working with homeless people has said.
Framework, which works to tackle and prevent homelessness across the East Midlands, operates two specialist floating support service across the area to help people whose mental ill-health places their housing in jeopardy. They are the Mansfield and Ashfield Moving Forward services, funded by Nottinghamshire County Council.
In 2014/15 the services supported 405 people in total, and managed to keep 95% of them in their homes.
Mansfield MP Sir Alan Meale and Cllr Sally Higgins open the event
Staff and service users from the Mansfield service Moving Forward Team held a fundraising event at Mansfield’s Beacon Project on Monday to raise awareness of and funds to support their work. The market-style event was attended by members of the public and other stakeholders, and was opened by Mansfield MP Sir Alan Meale.
Denise Wood, Team Leader at Mansfield Moving Forward Service explained: “People experiencing mental health difficulties are at greatly increased risk of getting into trouble with things like debt and rent arrears because there are so many different things going on in their lives. People can also make very bad and impulsive choices when they are vulnerable.
“In many cases these problems can lead to people losing their homes and becoming homeless – a situation that makes their mental health worse and brings huge costs to society. Others can be exploited by unscrupulous landlords or find themselves living in very poor conditions. The Moving Forward works exclusively to support people in these situations. We help people to take control of and confront the problems they are having. In the vast majority of cases we are successful in our work. Without this work dozens of extremely vulnerable people would lose their homes.
“We are very proud of this work and look forward to talking to more people about it at this event.”
People are referred to the Moving Forward Team by the community mental health services.
Glenda* was supported by Mansfield Moving Forward after a breakdown in her mental health put her home at risk of repossession. She said: “I had been unemployed for a long time and things were getting on top of me. I had a breakdown and was feeling suicidal. I’ve worked hard all my life and this house is all I have. I had no money coming in and things were getting really bad. I was referred to Framework for support and they are fantastic for me.
“The medial people had helped me to a certain point, but it was Framework who helped me deal with the reality of my situation. They helped me get my finances in place and helped me to get new income I was entitled to. For me Framework was like the fourth emergency service.”
Yvonne has been supported by Moving Forward since June 2015 after experiencing a mental health breakdown. She said: “I was getting really panicky about getting evicted because thing were really getting on top of me. I wasn’t working because of my mental health and my financial situation was getting worse and worse. I wasn’t opening my mail and I was literally hiding from people who came to the door. I was shutting myself away and burying my head in the sand. That was just making things worse. I just didn’t understand what was going on in my life and I felt lost.
“Moving Forward helped make everything clear and helped me find solutions to the problems I was having. They helped me to fill in all the forms I had been avoiding and dael with all the mail I had been shutting away. They helped me to get access to benefits and also a debt relief order. Without them I really don’t know what would have happened to me, but I definitely would have lost this house.”
*Both case studies quoted are genuine service users from Mansfield. They have, however, requested that their full details are not disclosed.