The Move-On And Me
I first became homeless in September 2006 - at this time I knew nothing about living on the streets in Oxford.
I (with time) stumbled across the various services available to the homeless and began staying at O'Hanlon House. After a period of instability I began to make progress and was advanced to the Resettlement Floor, which basically means you are/have been making serious efforts to progress and change your life.
During this time (3 months) I took on various courses to:-
- A, Improve my life-skills
- B, Stop my drinking and,
- C, Stop Boredom.
Then came the news that almost every O'Hanlon House resident is waiting for: Julian Housing is considering me as a prospective resident.
Now, for those who are really trying this is fantastic as it means less rules and more independence. Anyhow after a series of interviews and tours I was accepted.
All is great, I can eat and cook what I want when I want and come and go as I please, life just got better. I was encouraged to attend courses and become involved with in-house projects. These activities gave both the staff and myself confidence in me. I then obtained voluntary employment, which further boosted everyone's confidence including my own.
After 12 months at Julian Housing and having proved that I was not just someone after a free ride (of course I used the system to my advantage but PRO-ACTIVELY), I began to become impatient thinking “why am I putting all this effort in” and the phrase move-on kept being mentioned. What I didn't know was that all this time the wheels were turning in my favour.
After a further 6 months of Council housing bidding with no success, I was moved on to the Move-On Scheme. Because I had put the work in (instead of pretending to), this boosted me up the Council bidding system. Five weeks afterwards I was offered an excellent flat, which I accepted immediately and no it wasn't in any of the “hot spot” areas.
Having signed contracts and filled in requisition forms that gave me a week's grace at Julian Housing (I strongly recommend having that week for decorating) I was given the keys to my complete independence (WAHOO), and then I spent a week painting etc.
The downside to all this is that after worrying only about your £16/£30 rent plus food you must remember that you are now responsible for all household bills i.e. rent, water, electric, gas, Council Tax and of course your food (APPROX £80 per fortnight excluding food).
On the furnishings side I would recommend that you (if entitled use your grant to get basics) don't rent from Council unless necessary and you can afford it. There are places out there where you can get bargain furniture - ask the Julian Housing staff. The problem with renting from the council is that it's never yours and you still have to pay for it weekly.
I would dearly like to thank the Julian Housing team (all of the staff as you all helped at various times). Also the O'Hanlon House team for persevering with me (again that's the whole team, as you all helped at one stage or another).
The whole process of being homeless is not a nice one but if you are prepared to put the effort in there are plenty of people ready to help. Good Luck.