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Homelessness Awareness Week – Alexandra House

Alexandra House in Exmouth photo

Homelessness Awareness Week – Alexandra House case study

Westward provides a supported housing service Alexandra House, based in Exmouth, for men and women aged 18 and over, with 23 units of accommodation that comes with individual packages of support. We also offer pre-tenancy floating support and post tenancy work as well as bespoke mental health floating support.

Ex-offenders are at high risk of homelessness due to dependence on drugs or alcohol or simply being unable to get support finding the right sort of accommodation on release.

John, not his real name, was referred to Westward’s Alexandra House for pre-tenancy support. He was a long-term heroin user and had been in and out of prison seven times in six years.

Alexandra House At the time of referral by MEAM (Making Every Adult Matter) he was on a four month sentence for breaching the terms of his licence on his last release.

John felt hopeless and that he would be back living on the streets with a drug habit.

Being accepted onto the project he still had fears about a new home in an unfamiliar town.

This was compounded when he first moved in and was still using drugs. Leaving his old life wasn’t easy for John and he soon slipped back into negative behaviour and friendships which resulted in him having another spell in prison, sleeping rough and eventually becoming seriously ill in hospital with pneumonia.

All the time his offer of accommodation remained and when he realised he wouldn’t be punished for his behaviour John reached out to Westward support workers for help saying he wanted to make it work.

Our support workers ensured regular visits and contact in hospital, all of the team took time to talk to John by phone. He then returned to the project once he had recovered.

Emma Klepka, East Support Services Area Manager, said John is now engaged with RISE (Recovery and Integration Service) and is making good progress with his drug use now sporadic.

“A year ago he was living in the ‘here and now’ with no real plans for the future. Now he is starting to plan ahead and think of a life after drugs and ultimately in moving to his own accommodation.

“He feels now that he has reached a point where he has ‘broken the back’ of his issues and is no longer fearful of what the future may bring,” said Emma.

Westward owns and manages over 7,400 homes across Devon and Cornwall and delivers a range of support and social enterprise services to 1,500 people, making it one of the main affordable housing providers in the South West.